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  • Writer's pictureHannah Valliere

Cardiac Rehab: Healing Hearts and Changing Lives

Since 2000, Tioga Medical Center’s Cardiac Rehabilitation program has helped countless individuals with recent heart events improve their health, enhance their quality of life and return to the things they enjoy doing with the people they love.


The American Heart Association defines cardiac rehab is a medically supervised program designed to improve cardiovascular health. Participants are referred to the program by their cardiologist, typically after experiencing a heart attack or heart surgery. “Research shows that cardiac rehabilitation is an essential step in achieving full recovery and can actually reduce the risk of future heart problems” says Sarah Rice, RN, BSN, TMC Cardiac Rehab Director.


Sarah works with each patient to carefully develop a care plan, factoring in their overall health, physical limitations and goals. “Each participant comes in with their own unique situation and challenges,” says Sarah. “During their first session, we discuss goals and where they want to be at the end, whether that’s pounds or inches lost or gained endurance.”


Sessions are typically one-hour in length and include a variety of exercises such as cardio, balancing, weightlifting and resistance. Most patients complete 12 to 13 visits.


After completing the program, patients report renewed strength, energy and stamina; however, the benefits don’t stop there. “Many times, the patient may be experiencing depression or feelings of anxiousness especially around exercising,” says Sarah. “This program will help them reduce stress and regain their confidence.”


Sarah ensures her patients are well-equipped to continue their journey to recovery and better health at home, providing them with education on eating better, managing risk factors, and maintaining an active lifestyle. “Seeing each patient’s progress from beginning to end and helping them make a difference in their long-term health is truly rewarding.”


Patient Testimonial: Norman Westerness


When a blockage in Norman Westerness’ heart left him with two stints in June 2023, his cardiologist, Samir Turk, MD, of Trinity Health, referred him to cardiac rehab at Tioga Medical Center.


Norman participated in the program twice a week for a total of 13 visits. During those 13 visits, Norman utilized a variety of exercise equipment including the treadmill, bicycle and weights.


Norman credits Sarah for his renewed strength and endurance since completing the program, saying, “Sarah does a great job. She has a lot of information and is very well educated in her field.”  Norman also appreciates Tioga Medical Center for offering the service, admitting, “I probably wouldn’t have done it had I had to drive a long distance.”


Patient Testimonial: Larry Nordman


In early August 2023, Larry Nordman had a stint placed in his left coronary artery. Following the procedure, his cardiologist referred him to Tioga Medical Center for cardiac rehab. 


In September, Larry started his 13-session program, traveling to Tioga from his home south of Noonan once, sometimes twice, a week. Larry’s exercise regimen included stretching, weights, the treadmill and the arm bike.


Considerably active before his cardiac event, Larry understood the benefits of living an active lifestyle but gained a newfound appreciation for the structure the program provided. “I was never in an exercise program before. I didn’t know what it really involved,” says Larry. “It [cardiac rehab] got me into a routine so that I could continue at home and see the results that I wanted to obtain.”


Testimonials like Norman and Larry’s highlight the importance of having a cardiac rehab service available to residents of rural communities like ours. If you’ve recently suffered a cardiac event, visit your cardiologist to see if cardiac rehab is the appropriate next step for you.

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