Cardiac Rehab is His Life After the ‘Big One’

Karen Loewe, R.N., clinical coordinator of Cardiac Rehabilitation at NorthBay Medical Center, chats with longtime participant Hanson Shishido.

When retired businessman Hanson Shishido, 65, of Fairfield, says he survived the “big one,” he means it. Back in 2002 he didn’t just have a major heart attack. His heart went into cardiogenic shock, a condition in which a suddenly weakened heart isn’t able to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. The condition is a medical emergency and is fatal if not treated right away.

His cardiologist, Cyrus Mancherje, M.D., said it is an event only 10 percent survive. To help him recover, the doctor prescribed a course of cardiac rehabilitation, a medically supervised program that helps improve the health and well-being of people who have heart problems. The program includes exercise training monitored by specially trained nurses, health education, and support to help the patient return to an active life. It can help patients recover after a heart attack or heart surgery with a program tailored to the individual’s health needs.

Hanson had tried cardiac rehab in the mid-1990s, but quit after two years. He returned with a new commitment, and for 10 years he’s made mornings at NorthBay Medical Center’s Cardiac Rehabilitation department part of his routine. The supervised program has helped keep his diabetes in check, his cholesterol down and increased his energy level. In 2011, the staff did even more: they saved his life following a second heart attack.

“I had just gotten off the treadmill and was talking to the nurses,” he recalls. “I felt faint and when I woke up I was in the Emergency Department.”

Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised program that helps improve the lives of people with heart problems.

The cardiac rehab nurses had called a Code Blue and immediately begun CPR. Code Blue means cardiac arrest and signals an immediate response for life- saving treatment. Following diagnostic tests, Hanson went to the cardiac catheterization lab where a stent was placed in a blocked artery. Two weeks later he again felt faint and underwent surgery to have a defibrillator placed in his chest. This device delivers a therapeutic dose of electrical energy to the affected heart to restore a normal rhythm.

He’s once again in cardiac rehabilitation. “I’ll be here for life,” he says. “I quit once but I won’t quit again. Exercise is just one of the benefits of being in this cardiac rehab program. We all know each other and have the same problems. There’s a great camaraderie among patients and staff and it’s the reason I’m alive.”

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