Patient Story

Richard's story: Virtual Cardiac Rehab continues to aide in the health and recovery of heart attack survivor

In the Fall of 2019, Richard Cook was very active, working for his church’s fall festival and enjoying nature as he completed yard work at home. 

That’s why he and his wife were in shock when he suffered from a heart attack in late October. 

Richard showed no symptoms of a person with heart trouble leading up to his heart attack. However, on the day of his heart attack he had chest pains, was dizzy, nauseated and experienced full body sweats. He also almost fainted when standing up to go to the bathroom. When he arrived to Northside Hospital’s Emergency Department, doctors realized his artery was 100 percent blocked. 

“As soon as I arrived, several staff members surrounded me and immediately started administering life-saving care,” said Richard. “I never lost consciousness and witnessed how well they treated me throughout the process.” 

Dr. Amol Bapat, Northside cardiologist, inserted a heart catheter through Richard’s groin to identify the amount of blockage. Once he discovered the complete blockage, he placed a stent in his left artery with hopes of full recovery. 

The following month, Richard found out his right coronary artery was 85 percent blocked.

“Dr. Bapat referred me to another cardiologist after seeing my artery,” Richard said. “I was told my artery looked like a curly fry.” 

After his second procedure, Dr. Bapat recommended Richard, like many cardo patients, receive cardiac rehabilitation. In February 2020, Richard began attending cardiac rehab clinic in Northside Hospital Cherokee for their hour-long sessions consisting of three 15-minute segments on several cardiac exercise equipment, followed by general education meetings. During circuit training, clinicians placed monitors on Richard so his blood pressure could be monitored throughout the session. 

“The staff at Northside Cherokee’s Cardiac Rehab clinic are well trained, friendly and attentive,” said Richard. “When the COVID-19 pandemic started developing, they began changing protocols like hand washing and taking patient’s temperatures. They also sterilized all equipment after each use.” 

As the pandemic worsened, cardiac rehab could no longer be done in person. Rehab is an essential part of recovery for cardiac patients, so the staff at Northside Hospital Cherokee Cardiology developed an online program to keep their patients healthy. Each patient received a package that included workout equipment and set up information for virtual classes. 

“The staff created a weekly schedule and go over several exercises that can be done in the home with household items and the equipment they provided in their care packages,” said Richard.

Richard wears a Fitbit to monitor his progress and plans to attend the following phases of cardiac rehab to ensure a continued healthy and safe recovery, either virtual or in person.

“The staff has gone above and beyond with care and it is lovely that they are doing so,” said Richard.

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