Cardiac Rehab plays important role in improving your heart's future

THV11's Craig O'Neill shares the story of two people in Garland County who made a life-changing discovery that putting on the gown can lead to confidence, even late in life

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – In today’s ‘Wear the Gown’ segment, Craig O’Neill shares the story of two people in Garland County who made a life changing discovery with cardiac rehab.

Sister Carol Ann Corley and fellow patient Bill Creason arrive for another cardiac rehab session CHI St. Vincent in Hot Springs. They've both been going there for quite a while.

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Sister Carol still gets checked even though her initial problem is a thing of the past. She started cardiac rehab in 2010.

“I had severe angina when I was just walking up hills and stairs,” said Sister Carol. But with her faithful attendance she developed a habit, of exercise, and took care of it.

“Yes, my problems were resolved simply because I do cardiac rehab maintenance.”

Bill Creason, who has been in the program for 18 years, always exercised, was a tennis player, and discovered cardiac rehab when dropping off a relative for an appointment. He was there for six years before he needed a bypass and that made a big difference.

“My bypass was a walk in the park…wasn't anything to it. No pain, no anything,” Creason said. “It was easier than my appendectomy that I had when I was in college.”

Cardiologist Nazneen Tata knows the operations she performs are only the beginning.

“But really the healing comes after that. If all I had to do was put stints in people and that would protect them for the rest of their life, we'd start lining people up,” Dr. Tata said.

For data, we turn to Nurse Manager Mike Long.

“50 percent decrease mortality for patients that undergo the procedures,” he said.

For Sister Carol and Bill, their longtime devotion is more than just the machines

“Not just because of my improved health but also because of all the relationships I've developed since I've been here,” Sister Carol said.

“I belong to a health club. I wouldn't go, but I come to cardiac rehab because of the people,” Creason said.

The people are devoted to more than watching you work out.

“Because they're watching you, they can pick up on subtle signs that may suggest it's time for me to adjust your medication or maybe it's time for a follow up test or even get back into the clinic earlier than you anticipated,” Dr. Tata said.

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“It's almost like a gym membership but the nurses are still here,” said Long.

The staff, the facilities, the confidence all lead us now to what might be the single greatest comment we've ever gotten from anyone we've featured on our ‘Gowns’ series: “Those of us who think we're too busy to do the things like taking care of ourselves unless we have someone that holds us accountable, then we don't make the choices we need to make sometimes,” Sister Carol said.

February is National Heart Month and Cardiac Care Rehab units nationwide now play a key role in heart health.

As the American Heart Association points out on its website: Cardiac rehab doesn't change your past, but it can help you improve your heart's future.