How to Remain Among The Living When You Experience A Heart Attack (part 2) – Cardiac Rehab Classes

Since I was i need of knee replacement surgery, my cardiologist required me to complete a course of cardiac rehab classes. These classes are not to be confused with the cardio workout classes given by many gyms. In part because they cost considerably more and much of the cost can be placed on your medical insurance. The largest part of their cost is due to the level of staffing found there.

Cardiac class is not the same as Cardio class. The normal cardio class has a trainer and you have a set of machines that enable you to exercise in accordance with the trainer’s instructions.  No one but you monitors your heart rate (if it is monitored at all) and unless you really know what your heart rate targets are, you can easily over do it.

Cardiac class is similar except, you are first seen by the nurses that will be overseeing your rehab and evaluated to determine what kind of exercise program will be correct for you. I was a difficult case. My knees were in need of replacement and had been for the past 7 years at the time my cardiac rehab class was to start. This limited the machines I could use, no stair stepping machines or treadmills. But they developed a routine for me that although very repetitive in the selection of cycling machines, it would still do what they wanted me to be doing for my heart. 

Cardiac rehab starts with getting hooked up to a heart monitor, so your condition can be told to stop if you are over doing your exercises. Blood oxygen level and your blood pressure are also noted for your baseline. You are then sent out to perform the exercise routine chosen for you. About 2/3 to 3/4 of the way through your routine, a nurse will take your blood pressure while you are still exercising! When you are through, you are not allowed to leave until you are within 10% of your baseline,

Sound simple enough, but when I went through this, I had an eye opening experience. No, never had a problem doing the routine I was given, but shocked at some of the mid exercise numbers I was hearing for myself. Most of the people in the class would have a heart rate and blood pressure similar to HR 110, BP 130/80, at the mid exercise announcement. Not me, the announcement for me usually went HR 131, BP 200/100. By the 3rd class, I was more than a little concerned. So I asked the nurse what was wrong with me. She said, “Nothing, you are pushing yourself hard and that’s fine. you are within the limits your doctor set for you. Most of the people that come here are afraid to push themselves as hard as you do. Why are you not afraid?” My answer was I can’t get my knee replacements without passing this course with my doctors approval. I am at a facility with everything needed to treat any possible heart problem that may develop. There is a cardiologist down the hall. On top of which should I need to be resuscitated, there isn’t a single nurse here I would be unhappy to have working on me. I am almost in heaven now!

I passed that class feeling great and 6 months later my left knee was replaced.