Larry Donsky is known for cracking jokes and making people laugh, but when he suffered a heart attack last June, he got serious about his health with cardiac rehabilitation.
Active in the men’s club of his adult community and the local Italian-American club, the 77-year-old Jackson resident regularly booked entertainers for club events. During one event, he was asked to warm up the crowd with a short comedy set. Since then, Larry has been making audiences laugh throughout the area.
While playing golf on a 90-degree day last summer, however, he suddenly couldn’t catch his breath. He showered and ate lunch, but still didn’t feel well. A stiffening feeling then developed in his chest, followed by a sharp pain between his shoulder blades. He called his wife, Susan, who contacted the rescue squad. Larry was quickly transported to the Emergency Department at CentraState Medical Center, where he was treated for a heart attack.
Setting the Stage for Success
After undergoing double bypass surgery, Larry was referred to CentraState for cardiac rehabilitation by his board-certified cardiologist, Steven Daniels, MD. He attended rehabilitation sessions three times a week for eight weeks, followed by an additional twice-weekly program for six weeks. His workouts, which were carefully monitored by cardiac rehabilitation staff, included using a recumbent cross trainer, stationary bicycle, rowing machine, and free weights.
“Cardiac rehab helps patients both physically and psychologically,” Dr. Daniels explains. “It makes them feel more confident about working out and getting back to an active lifestyle.”
“The therapists showed me how to use the equipment and motivated me to get moving,” Larry says. “They let me know if I worked too hard, too. On a 10-point scale, I’d give them a 12.”
Along with moving more, Larry also changed what and how he ate. After meeting with a CentraState nutritionist during rehab, he’s now eating smaller portions, less red meat, and more vegetables and fish. He’s also watching his calorie and sodium intake. The most difficult change was cutting out his “trigger foods,” like pizza and bagels, which are high in carbohydrates and low on nutrition.
Now 45 pounds lighter, Larry, who has two sons, a daughter-in-law, and two granddaughters, continues to exercise at the community clubhouse. He’s looking forward to being active outside this spring as the weather gets warmer.
“My doctor said I’ve been given a ‘mulligan’ and that I should take advantage of it,” Larry says, referring to a “do-over” in golf terminology. “I enjoy doing standup, and even worked my weight loss into my set. I know that I’m lucky to have a second chance, and I’m taking it seriously.”
“Cardiac rehab helps patients feel more confident about working out and getting back to an active lifestyle.” – Dr. Steven Daniels
For more information about cardiac rehabilitation services at CentraState, visit Centrastate Cardiac Rehab or call 866-CENTRA7 (866-236-8727).