Vicky Vydra, a 37-year-old mother of two from Marlboro, was an avid runner, skier, and scuba diver. When she developed a persistent headache, she was shocked that tests revealed she had a hole in her heart.
After four weeks of debilitating headaches, Vicky visited her primary care physician, who heard a heart murmur. She made an appointment with Divya Menon, MD, a board-certified cardiologist on staff at CentraState, who uncovered an atrial septal defect. Vicky underwent a procedure to close the defect in March 2017.
To rebuild her strength after surgery, Vicky turned to the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at CentraState. The program is designed to improve the health of those with a cardiovascular condition and those recovering from a heart attack or cardiac procedure.
Phases of Rehabilitation
Phase I of cardiac rehabilitation, which begins in the hospital, educates patients about risk factors, diet, medications, physical activity, and recovery from surgery. Phase II is an outpatient, monitored exercise program that meets two to three times a week. The program is tailored to fit individual goals, and exercise becomes more vigorous as function improves. Walking, weight training, and equipment ranging from treadmills to stair climbers are incorporated into the program. Phase III allows patients to continue a supervised exercise program if medically necessary, while also exercising at home.
“Cardiac rehabilitation helps patients of all wellness levels rebuild their strength and their confidence,” Dr. Menon says. “We monitor patients carefully and employ a team approach to address their questions and concerns.”
Before beginning rehabilitation, patients complete a stress test to assess their physical capabilities. They are then enrolled in a class that supports and encourages group interaction and peer support.
Under Dr. Menon’s guidance, Vicky used high-intensity interval training as part of her recovery. She started slowly and worked up to two miles on the treadmill, 25 minutes on the elliptical, and a half-hour of weight training.
“High-intensity interval training is a great option for younger patients in better overall health,” Dr. Menon explains. “The program mixes short bursts of exercise with brief periods of rest, working the upper and lower body and improving stamina through repetition and resistance training.”
“The staff knew that I wanted to continue running at my prior level, so they supported my accelerated pace,” says Vicky, who was running up to 10 miles a day before surgery. “They reminded me to listen to my body, because it would tell me when I was pushing too hard.”
Vicky completed rehabilitation in July and is now jogging 4 miles a day. She’s looking forward to returning to work once she makes a full recovery.
“I’m getting stronger every day, and I feel great,” she says.
For more information about cardiac rehabilitation at CentraState, call 866-CENTRA7 (866-236-8727).