Rehabilitation for the heart and lungs

HEART DISEASE: Patients in the Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Unit at the Mecosta County Medical Center are set up with a program to fit their body type and medical needs. The unit has been open since 1995 and is located on the third floor of the hospital. (Pioneer photo/Lauren Gentile)

February is National “Heart Health” month

BIG RAPIDS — With heart disease being the leading cause of death in Mecosta County, claiming more than 100 lives per year, Mecosta County Medical Center is using its Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation unit to promote National Heart Health month this February.

 Tom Hogenson, public relations director at MCMC, said citizens should calculate their risk factors for heart disease.

“People with genetic and familial heart problems should talk to a health care provider about their risk for potential heart problems,” Hogenson said. “Smoking, obesity, high stress and high blood pressure can lead to heart problems and potential premature death.”

HELPFUL NURSES: (From left) Mindy Grunst, Tina Malcolm and Mona Stanski keep a watchful eye over patients as they exercise. Malcolm said her main goal is help the patients understand how to get their heart rate up to a safe level. (Pioneer photo/Lauren Gentile)

MCMC is promoting prevention of heart disease through exercise, a well-balanced diet, education and local resources.

“If you take the right precautions, heart disease can be preventable. (MCMC) is committed to making heart disease deaths decrease in our area,” said Mindy Grunst, coordinator of the Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation unit. “We encourage what you can do to help your heart physically, emotionally and mentally. People do not know that lack of sleep and consuming large quantities of processed foods can lead to higher risk for heart disease.”

The Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation unit, started in 1995, has seen an increase in people wanting to keep their hearts healthy. The unit has more than 20 exercise stations including bikes, ellipticals, weights and treadmills; patients will be closely monitored while using the machines.

“We are here watching every patient to see what they can and cannot do on each machine. Like personal trainers, we slowly work our patients up to exercising a lot,” said Mona Stanski, respitory therapist.

Patients come in to the office, located on the third floor of the hospital, two to three times per week and exercise for an hour at a time. Also, they are taught about topics that effect their heart and lungs during exercise and in daily life. Topics include stress management, nutrition, exercising at home and infection control. At least five classes with about 10 students each are held every day.

“This is not just a workout program. Also it is socialization for many people and support as well. Some patients are very afraid of going to a traditional gym, but here it is all about comfort,” said Tina Malcolm, RN. “We go through every step of working out and even teach them how to use each machine.”

The program has 120 patients ranging from 10 to 97 years old. Grunst said every patient is working for the same common goal.

“For the cardiac rehab, some of these people are here because they just had a heart attack and some are trying to prevent a heart attack,” she said. “For the pulmonary unit, we see a lot of people with lung disease like cystic fibrosis and asthma. They are looking for a better quality of living.”

Marilyn Adams, of Mecosta, had a heart attack on Oct. 30 feels safe at the rehabilitation unit under nurses’ supervision.

“When walking on the treadmill, I know I am safe because my heart is being monitored. If something did happen, I am at a good place and a doctor is not far away,” Adams said.

In order to start cardiac or pulmonary rehab, Grunst said patients must have a heart or lung condition or receive a referral from a doctor.

“The earlier people start the better. We do not just want to help people after their medical event, if we can prevent the medical event even better,” Adams said.

Kal Chararia, of Big Rapids, wishes he would have attended the center before his most recent heart attack.

“They are really knowledgeable and the nurses know what they are talking about. They can usually answer any medical question or will help you find the answer,” Chararia said. “Being in this monitored environment gives me a good oppurtunity to raise my heart rate and if something doesn’t look right, the nurses alert you.”

Before starting an exercise regiment or enrolling in the rehabilitation center talk to your doctor first about .

“We are here to make people’s live healthier and throughout February we are going to remind patients that you only get one heart and it isn’t something to mess around with,” Grunst said.

For more information about the rehabilitation center call (231) 796-8691 or check out their website at www.mcmcbr.com.

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Posted by Justin McKee

Justin is the Pioneer's Multimedia Coordinator. He helps create and edit video content, shoot photography, layout pages and even give a hand with website content. He can be reached at (231) 592-8369 or by email at jmckee@pioneergroup.com.

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