Avera Medical Minute: Cardiac Rehab Week

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Keith Anderson is celebrating his graduation from Cardiac Rehab at the Avera Heart Hospital. Looking back, he's come a long way since telling his doctor about the shortness of breath that leads to the discovery of a blockage.

"Visting my primary care doctor. He said you better get over here and I had those symptoms for a few months," said Anderson.

After surgery, he's been gaining strength, thanks to the nurses at Cardiac rehab. They keep him motivated. "The ladies here they have always been positive," said Anderson.

When you see people this often, genuine care and concern make a difference. "I started I tried to come 3 days a week. so mostly it was 3 days a week," said Anderson.

The cardiac rehab team got to know him not just as a patient, but a person. "The nurses were awesome," said Anderson. "Absolutely awesome."

Avera nurse Coleen Sprecher knows Cardiac rehab is an essential part of recovery. "So patients are referred to us from hospitals after having a qualifying diagnosis a heart-related event or procedure then we got a referral from the physicians' office or the hospital," said Sprecher.

One of the obstacles is getting over the fear of an elevated heart rate.
"They're on the heart monitor. We check blood pressures, blood sugars and we see how exercise affects those vital signs for them," said Sprecher. Basically, we get an exercise program going for patients and we slowly progress that making sure that everything looks good and they tolerate it well."

Patients graduate after about six weeks, sometimes healthier than before their heart event. "We do a lot of reassuring of how people are doing and helping them direct how they move along for there progression with cardiac rehab exercise," said Sprecher.

One of the most gratifying feelings as a nurse in Cardiac Rehab is seeing a patient with the confidence to jump back into life. "It's great to see people back out there living there lives doing things they want to be doing and the things they did before they hade a major heart or medical event," said Sprecher. "It makes us feel really good to see them out there doing well."

To those in the many staff working at cardiac rehab centers across the midwest, patients like Keith say thank you.