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Remarkable Recovery Through Cardiac Rehab

By |2024-05-10T08:16:44-04:00January 19th, 2022|Categories: Cardiology, Health A-Z|Tags: , |

Ken Savoia, 59, was no stranger to heart issues. The avid runner had seen his cardiologist, Ted Gutowski, MD, regularly for the last 15 years to ensure that minor cardiac troubles didn’t develop into more concerning conditions.

Then three years ago, Dr. Gutowski diagnosed Ken with hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (HCM). In this relatively rare cardiac condition, the muscle between the heart’s chambers becomes abnormally thick, blocking blood flow. The condition was managed for several years through medication and monitoring. But when Ken began to have trouble breathing last February, an echocardiogram showed that the condition was worsening, and he underwent specialized open-heart surgery.

Regaining Strength After Surgery

Ken needed to use a walker following the surgery, so Dr. Gutowski referred him to CentraState’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program to help rebuild his strength. Through supervised, monitored exercise three days a week for three months, Ken regained his stamina and confidence to exercise again. He started with light leg exercises and progressed to add arm weights and then treadmill, bicycle, and elliptical activities as he grew stronger.

“The staff and nurses at the cardiac rehab program were fantastic,” Ken says. “They had to tell me to slow down at one point because I felt so good that I wanted to keep going.”

Two months after surgery and partially through cardiac rehab, Ken had another echocardiogram at CentraState. The technician compared these new results with the original tests and was amazed at the difference.

Ken can now walk up to nine miles a day and plans to start running again shortly. He’s looking forward to competing in a half-marathon in the fall.

“This experience has been scary but amazing,” Ken says. “The cardiac rehab staff helped me physically and emotionally. I feel like I got my life back.”

Because HCM is a hereditary disease, there’s a chance his daughters may develop it, too. They visit Dr. Gutowski regularly for echocardiograms to check for any changes.

“It’s important to know your family history of any cardiovascular disease because in most cases, there are things you can do to reduce your risk,” Dr. Gutowski explains. “If you do develop symptoms that you can’t easily explain, such as shortness of breath, chest discomfort, palpitations, or lightheadedness, communicating with your primary care doctor or cardiologist can help catch any issues early.”

Learn more about cardiology services at CentraState at or 866-CENTRA7 (866-236-8727).

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