Cardiac Rehabilitation program helps Biloela patients

15 May 2017

(From left) Jim Handley, Don Large, Clifford White, Kate-Lyn Low, Victor O’Reilly and Corina Berry in action in the Cardiac Rehabilitation Gym at Biloela Hospital.

When Jim Handley felt breathless and a tightening in his jaw he had no idea he was suffering a heart attack.

He is just one Biloela heart patient who has benefited from a cardiac rehabilitation program run in partnership between Biloela Hospital and local non-government organisationThere4U.

Mr Handley said he had been walking his dachshund Sasha around his yard in April last year when he knew something just wasn’t right.

“It felt a bit like a toothache, or a tightening in my jaw,” he said. “I didn’t really feel crook, but we called the ambulance, they came and did a test and then drove me to the hospital.

“They did a blood test here and I was on the plane to The Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane, where an angiogram found one artery was completely blocked and another had a narrowing.”

Mr Handley had two stents inserted, and then came back to Biloela to recover.

In September he started his first cardiac rehabilitation program at Biloela Hospital, run in partnership with There4U.

He found the initial eight-week program so valuable that he signed up for an eight-week maintenance program.

The program includes twice-weekly exercise sessions that are monitored by the Cardiac Rehabilitation Nurse and There4U Exercise Physiologist. There are fortnightly education sessions with helpful information about diet, medications and other topics.

“The most important thing I’ve gained is the confidence to do something, and know what you can and can’t do,” Mr Handley said.

“It’s also nice being with other people more or less in the same boat as yourself and seeing how they progress and what you can do to progress yourself.

“You have to realise there are things you can’t do - that you’ve had a heart attack, but it’s good to know when you can push that little bit harder.”

Mr Handley is back to walking Sasha, and working in the garden to his limit.

Cardiac Rehabilitation Nurse Corina Berry loves offering the program to Biloela people. “It’s very nice to be able to do this here so our patients don’t have to travel outside the area to access the service.”

There4U Exercise Physiologist Kate-Lyn Low enjoys being able to help the participants reach their goals by personalising the program to suit their ability.

“It’s rewarding seeing the participants reach the targets they set themselves at the start of the program and working with them to get there.”

Heart Foundation research has found that cardiac rehabilitation can reduce complications such as hospitalisation within the first year after a cardiac event by up to 56%.

The program promotes an accelerated recovery and helps participants get back to work; it reduces risk factors for further health problems by including management of blood pressure, diabetes, increasing exercise and weight loss; it improves wellbeing and quality of life and improves understanding and adherence to medications and lifestyle changes.