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Arkansas Heart Hospital adds new program for post-COVID patients

Sometimes, breathing issues linger and last longer than the actual virus itself. This program is meant for people experiencing issues like that.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — For many people, COVID-19 has lasting effects. 

"Shortness of breath and exercise intolerance, but it can be heart palpitations, and balance issues, fatigue," said Amanda Xaysuda, Director of Strong Hearts Rehabilitation Center.

She said it's something that is even more common than we think.

"The number of our Arkansans, who have been positive for COVID over the last two years now," said Xaysuda. "Many of those patients have lingering symptoms."

So how do you get those people back on track?

Xaysuda says last month, the hospital was approved to begin a program aimed toward folks who have lingering effects from the virus.

"We sit down one on one with one of our exercise physiologists or nurses, who will go over their current symptoms and kind of set a goal for their exercise prescription," said Xaysuda.

Here is how the post-COVID Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program will work.

For 12 weeks, those enrolled in the program come to the hospital three times a week to exercise for nearly an hour each day.

"That doesn't mean that they're exercising for a full hour because a lot of patients that we're seeing right now that are starting with us are only able to tolerate about 15 minutes of exercise," said Xaysuda.

These exercises will allow people with breathing or cardiac issues to really work to improve their long-lasting symptoms.

"So someone who comes in with shortness of breath still will work a lot on breathing retraining," said Xaysuda. 

The hospital started the program after it received approval from the federal healthcare agency known as Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

AHH said 10 people are enrolled already.

Doctors and nurses will track the progress of those patients until the end of their 12 weeks.

AHH said any adult that is experiencing COVID symptoms beyond four weeks qualifies for the program.

It also requires a referral from your doctor.

AHH will offer the post-COVID pulmonary rehab program at its west Little Rock campus, Encore Medical Center in Saline County and community clinics in Russellville.

To learn more, visit the Arkansas Heart Hospital's website arheart.com.