Heart Help

Cardiac Rehabilitation Now Available
in Vacaville

James Stacey uses an exercise bike under the supervision of Karen Loewe, R.N., clinical manager of NorthBay Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation.

Last December, James Stacey of Vacaville received a “wake-up” call that no one wants to get. While making repairs around his home, he began having trouble breathing. When his symptoms didn’t go away, his wife of 48 years, Rochelle, took him to the David Grant Medical Center emergency department. It was Christmas Day, and James, 72, was diagnosed with congestive heart failure (CHF) and sent directly to the intensive care unit.

In the following week, 26 pounds of excess fluid was drained from his body. Even then, his heart was having trouble maintaining its rhythm. It took five electrical shocks before his heart returned to normal. When he was discharged from the hospital he was referred to the NorthBay Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation department at NorthBay Medical Center.

Cardiac rehabilitation is designed to help patients recover from a heart attack, other forms of heart disease, or surgery to treat heart disease. “Our goal is to establish an individualized plan to help each patient regain their strength to reduce the risk of future heart problems, and to improve their health and quality of life,” says Karen Loewe, R.N., clinical manager of the program.

Like patients before him, James discovered a comfortable community dedicated to helping him regain his health. The Air Force veteran who had survived four trips to Vietnam was ready for the challenge. The program has made an incredible difference in his health, he said. It has helped him lower his weight from 176 pounds to 150 on his 5-foot-3-inch frame.

In addition to exercise, health education was also part of his program. He attended a series of four CHF classes taught by a registered nurse, a pharmacist, a social worker and a dietitian. Everything from the disease to the emotional difficulties of living with a chronic condition was discussed.

“My wife and I attended the classes, which were fantastic. For one class you’re asked to bring in all of your medications and they explained what each one does and how it works,” he said. “I learned about my disease and how to change my diet. They’ve done wonders with me. The nurses really care about you. This program is like family and that’s part of the reason I’m continuing with it.”

Now he is on Phase III, an unmonitored exercise program under the supervision of the rehab nurses.

Cardiac Rehabilitation at the VacaValley Wellness Center in Vacaville is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. The staff from the NorthBay Medical Center program will rotate their work between the two sites, with two registered nurses always supervising the program. For more information, call (707) 646-5072.

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