IRMO, SC (WIS) - A new, state-of-the-art cardiac rehabilitation program has opened on the Lexington Medical Center Irmo campus.
It includes a complete team of medical professionals who will walk you through the progress of recovering and rebuilding after a heart attack.
The rowing machine is one of Cliff McElveen's favorites at the Lexington Medical Center Cardiac Rehab facility in Irmo Medical Park.
"They need to help me outlive my wife because I want to take care of my wife,"McElveen said.
A virtuous ideal that almost became unrealistic. Earlier this year, the 74-year-old suffered a heart attack. Several in a few days. He mistook the discomfort for strained muscles from yard work.
"I had a little stress between my shoulders and shortness of breath," said McElveen. "I knew it was a little different, but I didn't think anything about it."
Cliff even thought he could have the flu. Because something just wasn't right, he went to an urgent care facility.
"They immediately called for transport and they said they needed to urgently get me to the main hospital," McElveen said. "When we got to the emergency room, the cardiac team met me on the loading dock and they rushed me right in, did some tests and immediately determined I was having another event."
He was quickly in surgery where doctors inserted a stent to open his narrowed artery. Shortly after, Cliff chose to take advantage of this physician-ordered, medically supervised program.
"We have registered nurses, exercise physiologists, dieticians, vocational counselors, and psychologists that are on staff," said Mark Stout, supervisor of the Cardiac Rehabilitation at Lexington Medical Center Irmo.
Stout says it's like going back to school to relearn the basics of cardio, nutrition and stress management. Patients receive an overall education on what happened to their body, how medicines will affect it and explanations about blood pressure, cholesterol and other key factors that affect the heart.
"They went over exactly what had happened to me, what I could expect over the short-term and the long-term," McElveen said. "And then they went into an explanation of the types of drugs I would be taking and the cardiac rehabilitation program that's available."
Patients in the program meet three days a week - an hour and a half at a time - for three to four months.
"We need to help them, educate them get them back on that road to doing the right things," Stout said.
This particular program targets Irmo and Chapin area heart patients with the hope that a convenient location will encourage compliance. More patients can request to enroll, but Stout says most don't even know it's available.
"Those people who don't get into cardiac rehab, which only 20 percent of candidates actually make it to cardiac rehab. 20 percent of candidates for cardiac rehab actually get referred to cardiac rehab," Stout said.
Cliff is thankful he chose to part of that 20 percent. It has significantly increased his chances of being able to fulfill his desire to live a long, healthy life with his wife.
People who can benefit from cardiac rehab include patients with a history of heart attack, angina, angioplasty or stenting, heart valve or bypass
surgery. Studies show they have up to a 46% reduction in death rates compared to non-participants.
Most insurance companies will cover the initial cost of outpatient cardiac rehab for approximately three months.
Usually, the patient has had a heart attack, bypass surgery or a stent placed in coronary arteries so they would qualify for insurance reimbursement. After the initial 3-4 months, they graduate and if they would like to continue into the maintenance program it is self-pay at approximately $70 per month. Many patients who continue into the maintenance program do so because of the medical supervision of the cardiac rehab staff and the friendships or relationships they have developed while in cardiac rehab.