Why I Am Glad I Did Cardiac Rehab

A UCSF Cardiac Rehabilitation Center patient took the time to express gratitude for the therapy he received. In his own words, he explains why he is happy that he signed up for cardiac rehabilitation. 

I had a heart attack a few months ago and landed in the hospital. After I left the hospital, a number of people made supportive comments that didn't apply to my previous life and would otherwise have gone unnoticed. Here are a few of them.

When the attack happened, I was in the process of getting a dental implant. I told the oral surgeon about it and he surprisingly asked me, "How's your sense of self­ esteem?" He went on to explain that people who have heart attacks often believe that they are "finished" and that they might as well give up. He said, "You must never give up!" Then he went on from there and I got his point.

When I left the hospital, one of the people on my care team strongly urged me to consider rehab. I didn't see what good it would do because I had a pretty good walking routine in the hills around our house. Later, my cardiologist asked if I had signed up for rehab. I said, "no". She replied, "I believe it can help you live longer."

About the same time, a friend who had been through the UC cardiology rehab program strongly urged me to sign up. She later followed up with a reminder and told me how well it worked for her.

So I signed up for a 12-week program with the cardiac rehab department at UC. They have a staffed and well-equipped gym near my home and also offer a weekly video at-home program. Their programs include counseling, dietary consultation, and exercise training. I opted for the dietary and video exercise components.

The exercise component included recommendations for exercises at least 5 days a week and a weekly meeting with an Exercise Physiologist (EP). In the weekly meeting, we would do a routine of exercises together and he would discuss the benefits of each one. A daily tracking computer app kept records of blood pressure, heart rate and weight. I recently told the EP that the regularity of the meetings and reporting of daily activities on the app was a good thing because otherwise, I would lapse into old habits. He suggested that I set aside time each day just for myself, just to focus on exercise activities. His timing was right and I was in a position to receive that message. I'm very grateful for that.

A part of the exercise component included beginning, middle, and end evaluations at the gym. I would exercise on a variety of machines and they would monitor my EKG, blood pressure, oxygenation level and pulse rate.

For several decades, I have preferred rich French and Italian style foods with mainly fish and fowl for meats. In the last few years, my diet has changed to be more like a Mediterranean diet that includes more vegetables and fruits and less meat and carbohydrates.The dietician made a number of suggestions and helped me fine­ tune my meals for a more balanced diet at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Today was my last day in the program. As I left the gym, I was given a progress report and a diploma, something to remind me of my success in caring for myself. I believe my health has improved substantially over the last 12 weeks.

I am very grateful for the UCSF cardio rehab experience. 


To learn more about UCSF's Cardiac Rehabilitation and Wellness Center please click the link below.