Cardiac Rehab: Last step in recovering from heart attack - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Cardiac Rehab: Last step in recovering from heart attack

(Source: RNN) (Source: RNN)

Doctors are learning more about treating heart attacks - and patients are reaping the benefits.

One of the most important aspects of treatment is rehabilitation. It's a term most of us are familiar with when it comes to an injury or joint replacement.

A few weeks ago, Oscar Elliott had a heart attack.

"It woke me up in the morning," Elliott recalled. "I thought I just had indigestion. And I got ready and came to work and my chest was hurting all day long. I went home that evening laid down and then woke up Friday morning and it was even worse.  Come to work and worked all day and I finally went to the emergency room."

There, he got the diagnosis. He says he stayed at the Decatur General campus of Decatur Morgan Hospital from Friday until Sunday morning.  Sunday morning, he went to Huntsville Hospital.

Two stents and one week later, he was in cardiac rehabilitation at Decatur Morgan.

"It's building my body back up and I'm actually losing weight," Elliott said about his treatment.

We caught up with him during his third visit at the cardiac rehab facilities at Decatur General.

Cardiac rehab is a medically-supervised program which includes exercise, training and education - like nutrition - for the patient.

Rehab Coordinator and Registered Nurse Karen Moser says it's vital for recovery.

"I think exercise is really the key," she said. "Exercise has been shown to strengthen the heart and save people's lives.  

Moser says the reason we want the heart operating at it's peak is so it can deliver much needed oxygen to the rest of the organs in the body.

"The only way we have right now of increasing the function of the heart, is through activity or exercise.  And it doesn't mean you have to go to a gym and kill yourself. It can be moderate exercise, 30 minutes a day, five days a week," said Moser.

Patients here are also educated about lifestyle changes, according to Elliott.

"Now I have to watch what I eat, like corn bread and fried chicken, fried bologna, fried eggs," he said.

In addition to the exercise he gets here, Elliott walks near his home and at the mall every day.  

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