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Breathing Easier with Pulmonary Rehabilitation

By |2024-05-10T08:42:40-04:00April 12th, 2018|Categories: Cardiology, Health A-Z, Patient Stories|Tags: , , |

For about a year, Sandy Gordon of Colts Neck had labored breathing when performing tasks such as climbing stairs, and just thought it was part of the aging process. When her breathing didn’t improve, she visited Kenneth D. Barofsky, MD, board-certified internal medicine physician and on staff at CentraState and did the breathing test, and he diagnosed her with COPD.

COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, is a progressive disease that makes it hard to breathe. People with COPD may have difficulty breathing, chronic cough, fatigue and chest tightening. Patients may also suffer from a variety of sleep disorders, including insomnia, sleep-disordered breathing, and restless leg syndrome.

One of the major contributing factors to COPD is a history of smoking, and Sandy had smoked a pack a day for 40 years. “I started around age 17, and quit 9 years ago,” she says. “I just got really afraid of the health risks. That was probably my primary cause of COPD.”

After Dr. Barofsky first diagnosed Sandy’s COPD and gave her a bronchial inhaler, she asked if she could still remain physically active. “I’m an avid bike rider, love to hike with my dog, and I’m a volunteer dog walker at the SPCA,” Sandy says. “He said I could exercise to a certain degree, and recommended CentraState’s pulmonary rehab.”

CentraState’s comprehensive Pulmonary Rehabilitation program is designed to reduce the impact of pulmonary disease on a patient’s daily life. Through 36 sessions, the program helps to:

  • Reduce shortness of breath and associated anxiety
  • Increase exercise tolerance and the ability to perform normal daily activities
  • Increase participation in physical and social activities
  • Provide with a better understanding of your disease and how to manage it
  • Reduce the need for and frequency of hospitalization
  • Improve overall quality of life

“If someone is experiencing symptoms of lung disease such as shortness of breath or chronic cough, they should contact their doctor, and, if necessary, inquire about the pulmonary rehab program,” says Carina Minchew, pulmonary clinical coordinator for CentraState’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation program. “We provide the diagnostic testing, such as pulmonary function testing, six-minute walk, and cardiopulmonary stress testing, to help diagnose COPD and other lung conditions.”

Able to Exercise
Sandy has been a member at CentraState’s Fitness & Wellness Center for about four years and was already exercising, but she says she didn’t understand what one should or shouldn’t be doing with COPD. By attending the pulmonary rehab program, Sandy was able to discover exercises and techniques that worked for her and gave her guidance to lead a healthy lifestyle. “It was such a relief to have somebody say, ‘It’s ok, we can help you.’” Now, with my pulmonary rehab maintenance exercises, I’m no longer feeling anxious,” Sandy says. “I feel stronger and feel like I’ve physically improved, but more than that, I’ve mentally and emotionally improved. My respiratory therapists, Carina and Denise [Camaraza], are both amazing. They are very knowledgeable, and they’ll take the time and talk to me about anything.”

Sandy also indicates that she identified with the other people going through the program, which helped to calm worries of living with COPD. “I think I’m in better shape now than I was before I was diagnosed,” she says. “The program is amazing, I just love it. I see myself staying in it pretty much forever. It has given me confidence that I still can lead a normal life.”

For more information on CentraState’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation program, call 732-294-2671.

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