Lately, our discussions have revolved around cardiovascular disease (read more here and here) – its profound impact and the significance of maintaining physical activity. Yet, have you ever wondered about the firsthand experience of an individual caught in the throes of living with such conditions?
Receiving a diagnosis of cardiovascular disease sets off a complex and often daunting journey. The path to recovery hinges on rehabilitation, a pivotal phase that unfortunately brings its own share of apprehension and ambiguity. While physical movement is crucial for the body’s healing and overall enhancement, for those grappling with this situation, it can evoke an overwhelming sense of intimidation.
As Exercise Physiologists, we often cross paths with individuals facing challenges much like these. Let’s get acquainted with one of our customers, ‘Charles’ (name changed for privacy), who embodies this experience. He was diagnosed with serious heart failure, which ultimately led him to undergo a heart transplant. Following his surgery, Charles followed the typical path of post-operative care, gradually easing back into his part-time work routine.
However, despite some progress, the weight of his recent health journey remained with him. Uncertainty and nervousness clouded his decisions about what he could or should engage in. Activities that had once brought him joy, like hiking, were now a distant memory. Overall, he battled fatigue, a significant decline in physical condition, and a noticeable dip in his self-assurance.
Enter Exercise Physiology
Charles had just completed his cardiac rehab and had worked up to 20 hours per week at work. During a phone call with his case manager, he shared his concern about gradually increasing his work duties from here and advised that his cardiology team was also apprehensive. Despite the guidance so far, he felt unsure about how to proceed due to lingering symptoms and a lack of confidence. He asked his case manager about potential support, and she turned to us, which is where our EP, Eric, stepped in.
From the outset, Eric’s mission was clear: to educate Charles about his condition and arm him with tools to monitor and effectively manage it. This included delving into aspects such as heart rate and blood saturation levels and implementing a safe exercise regimen that encompassed overall strength training and, of course, cardiovascular exercise.
Their journey began within the walls of a gym, gradually progressing to encompass the very activities we previously discussed – including trail walking sessions. Over time, Charles self-assurance grew, enabling him to independently sustain his exercise program and fully rekindle his engagement in a range of activities.
As a result of their efforts, Charles achieved some great results. His cardiovascular fitness improved by more than 30%, his upper body strength doubled, and his overall quality of life soared. Most significantly, Charles regained the self-assurance and capacity to resume full-time work and embrace life to the fullest. We could go on, but who better to summarise it than the customer themselves!
Final words from ‘Charles’
“At the start I was not confident, I had a lot of weakness and was not comfortable with exercise. Now, I can go hiking for 40-60 minutes, I go to the gym every week and I feel confident.
I felt that Eric was so brave to take on my case. I know a lot of people would have felt intimidated by the sorts of conditions I have. But he was confident and slowly gave me confidence.
I would definitely recommend it to anyone, absolutely“
Author: Tessa Nielsen
Clinical Exercise Physiologist and
Content Creator at Specialised Health
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