If Don had been exercising and not supervised, his symptoms might have been ignored and he could have had a heart attack. - Genesis HealthCare System - Zanesville, Ohio

Nurse Recognizes Cardiac Rehab Patient Needs Medical Attention

husband and wife standing together in barn wearing sweaters, don brauning

Exercise is supervised for patient safety

Don Brauning was on a treadmill at the Genesis Heart & Vascular Rehab Gym when he stepped off suddenly for a few seconds. “One of the nurses immediately noticed. She asked me what was wrong, and I told her, ‘Nothing,’” he said.

Something was definitely wrong, and Don credits the nurses in Heart & Vascular Rehab with saving his life. “If I had been at home or at another exercise facility, I probably wouldn’t have noticed anything was wrong, and I could have ended up in the Emergency Department – or worse,” said Don, a retired dentist.

The specially trained nurses and exercise physiologists in Genesis Heart & Vascular Rehab monitor participants’ heart rates and patterns while exercising and measure their blood pressure before and after exercising. After seeing Don’s heart rate change on the monitor, Sharon Francis, R.N., requested a stress test for Don, and he was able to do the test the next day.

Heart catheterization reveals a blockage

“If Don had been exercising and not supervised, his symptoms might have been ignored and he could have had a heart attack,” said Abdulhay Albirini, M.D., interventional cardiologist, Genesis Heart & Vascular Group. “The cardiac rehab staff was there, recognized the chest pain, and that’s why the problem was taken care of quickly.” Don had a stress test and heart catheterization. “His heart catherization showed he had a bad blockage in one of his arteries and as a result, a heart stent was inserted,” said Dr. Albirini.

With a family history of heart disease, Don and his wife Suzanne are glad that such a high caliber of heart care is nearby. “We wanted to have expert care who could care for Don quickly,” Suzanne said. “We didn’t want to have to travel to a large city.”

Helping patients reduce the risk for future cardiac events

The Nashport man enjoys going to Genesis Heart & Vascular Rehab and participating in the education programs. “This isn’t just an exercise program,” Dr. Albirini said. “It is a comprehensive, long-term medical education and risk factor modification program. The program’s goal is to help control risk factors and decrease the risk of future cardiovascular events.”

Don is proof the program works. “Don is one of my patients I have been taking care of for many years. He’s compliant with his medication and his rehab exercise program, and that’s why at age 88 he looks good, is active and is an example of a patient deriving the benefits of our cardiac program,” Dr. Albirini said.

Don exercises at the Genesis Heart & Vascular Rehab Gym three times a week. He encourages others to exercise – even his heart doctor.

"I’ll see Dr. Albirini in the hallway of the hospital and ask him if he’s playing soccer or exercising. And I’ll tell him, ‘You need to take care of yourself. I need you,’” Don said.

Dr. Albirini joined the Heart & Vascular team at Genesis in 2001. “I am really proud to be a part of the Heart & Vascular Institute at Genesis. Everybody involved in the program is really making a difference in the lives of our patients in Southeastern Ohio,” he said. And Don is proof the program is making a difference.

There are a wide variety of exercise and education programs available at the Genesis Heart & Vascular Rehab Gym, located in the Genesis Physician Pavilion. In addition to the Heart & Vascular Rehab program, there are other exercise programs to help you get active and maintain a healthier lifestyle including Genesis Risk Intervention Program (GRIP) and Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).

The programs are led by nurses, exercise and rehab specialists, and exercise physiologists and include education, encouragement and connection with other members.

When you have heart disease, it’s important to exercise regularly. If you aren’t already active, your doctor may want you to begin an exercise program. Rehab can help you be more active and make lifestyle changes that can lead to a stronger heart and better health.

What you need to know before you start exercising

Even if you can only do a small amount of exercise, it’s better than not doing any exercise at all. Before you begin, talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise program. Your doctor may do an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) and possibly an exercise stress test to assess how much activity your heart can safely handle. Here's some other exercise information you should know before you begin:

  • After you start exercising, stop your activity immediately if you experience chest pain or pressure, feel faint or lightheaded, or become extremely out of breath.
  • Start an exercise program, such as walking, cycling or jogging.
  • Try to do moderate activity on most, preferably all, days of the week.
  • Aim for a goal to exercise for at least 2½ hours a week.
  • Exercise can help lower the risk of a heart attack.
  • A complete exercise program includes aerobic exercise, strength training and stretching.
  • Set goals you can reach. If you expect too much, you are likely to become discouraged and stop exercising.

Call (740) 454-4336 to schedule a visit or sign up for a program.

Make an Appointment

800-834-7804 or 740-454-0804

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