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Lodi Memorial Hospital programs aim to educate heart and lung disease patients

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Posted: Monday, August 13, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 8:38 am, Mon Aug 13, 2012.

In the corner of the room, a woman walks on a treadmill. Towards the center, another man works on a resistance machine. As the sound of whirring machines fills the air, Fred Hoffman puts on a pouch that holds a heart monitor. He says the device checks his heart while he is using the exercise machines. Hoffman is a patient in Lodi Memorial Hospital’s cardiac rehabilitation program.

This program was recently relocated in the hospital and combined with a new pulmonary rehabilitation program. Carol Farron, spokeswoman for the hospital said the new location is more convenient and inspirational for patients and can accommodate both programs and more equipment. There are currently 14 heart and lung patients in each program that provides exercise routines and health education to get them back on track.

“Through education, exercise, diet and the support of professionals, both patient types can reach their highest levels of functioning and not feel limited or frightened of heart disease or lung disease,” said Farron.

A heart surgery patient’s success

Hoffman has been in the cardiac rehabilitation program for 11 weeks. For three mornings a week, he spends an hour at the hospital, a portion of it on the exercise machines and a portion learning about healthy eating. After suffering from full-blown diabetes and then having quadruple bypass heart surgery in April, he was referred to the program by his cardiologist.

Hoffman’s morning begins at 7 a.m. He is weighed in and then has his blood pressure checked. He works out for 45 minutes on five aerobic machines. His first stop is the NuStep. After warming up for five minutes, he works up to the maximum level for 10 minutes. He then moves to the next four machines, where he works out for 10 minutes on each. Hoffman first started out his routine on the treadmill but found it wasn’t challenging enough for him. His favorite part now is doing sprints on the bike. He enjoys getting his heart rate up and watching it go down in a decent amount of time.

In the center of the room, a chart hangs on the wall with a number range of six to 20. This chart is a guideline to aid patients in gauging their target heart rate, which is one of the program’s goals. Usually, the staff wants patients in the 13 or 14 range at the end of each exercise, explained Hoffman.

Once his exercise portion is complete, a staff member takes him into the next room, where he and his three classmates do stretches and cool down exercises. The class then learns about risk factors for heart disease in a 10-minute education class. Since starting the program, Hoffman said he has lost 22 pounds. His cholesterol has come down as well as his glucose numbers. The most beneficial part of it for him has been the educational component, he said. He has learned how to read food labels and has learned how to use food substitutions. Instead of dairy milk, he now uses soy milk. He has also replaced salt with Mrs. Dash. The 61-year-old has learned how to pinpoint the problem areas in his diet and how to correct them. Now has a better outlook on life and has more energy than before, he said. He now spends a lot of his time reading food labels in the grocery store as well as cycling.

“This is the best thing I have ever done for my heart,” he said. “It has changed my life around.”

A smoker’s life turned around

Once a smoker, Suzanne Bovea suffers from emphysema. The 64-year-old first heard about a possible pulmonary rehabilitation class while attending the Better Breathers Support Group at the hospital. After taking a similar course in Stockton 10 years ago, she decided to use this class as a refresher. She was impressed after attending Lodi’s program.

“They had a lot more educational stuff to learn. They taught us things I didn’t know before,” she said.

After Lodi’s program was discontinued 20 years ago, there appeared to be a need to bring it back to Lodi residents, said Jana Van Os, supervisor of cardiopulmonary services. To participate in this type of program, patients had to travel to Sacramento or Stockton.

“We have a huge population who has asthma or COPD. We really have a chance to make a positive impact on someone’s life,” she said.

The program is for people who have moderate to severe lung disease, most often Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or pulmonary fibrosis, she explained. The overall goal is to improve the patients’ quality of life. It is also to teach them how to take control of their life such as when to call the doctor, when to relax and when to breathe.

Bovea’s routine consisted of about eight different warm-up exercises followed by time on the equipment. At the beginning of the pulmonary program, patients work on the machines for about five minutes at a time. Since the class is about increasing endurance, the eventual goal is for patients to work up to 20 minutes a machine, said Van Os.

Weight lifting and then a time of meditation followed. Patients were encouraged to reflect on their day and the work they had accomplished.

“I’ve never done that before. It’s really calming,” said Bovea.

At the end of the two-hour class, Bovea and her classmates attended an educational portion, where they learned how to take medication and how to listen to their body and learn what it is telling them.

Three weeks after completing the class, Bovea suffered an asthma attack and was able to use the information she had learned in class. She felt empowered by the knowledge of how to react to her body.

“They gave us a lot of clues about what to expect and what to look for so we can catch it before it gets really bad,” she said.

Since it was reestablished, the pulmonary class has had one full graduating class, each of them with different goals, said Van Os. One person lost 17 pounds. Another is now able to walk up the stairs.

“We work on increasing endurance. It’s really to give their life back in some capacity,” she said.

Not only does Bovea now know how to listen to her body for possible illnesses, she is more aware of what she eats. A person who describes her old self as a couch potato, Bovea said she is physically in better shape. She is now able to walk longer distances than before.

“I now have built up endurance. It shows you how much exercising really helps us,” she said.

Contact Features Editor Pam Bauserman at pamelab@lodinews.com. Find the best bargains in Lodi on Pam's blog, Saving with Pam.

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