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'Listen to Your Heart:' Patient Suffers Heart Attack, Succeeds with Cardiac Rehab

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Jerry Streinz walks on a treadmill, while working with Jolene Stackis, RN, Cardiac Rehab

One day last May, Jerry Streinz was outside cutting the grass when he knew something was wrong, so he put things away and went inside to take some aspirin.

The tingling in his fingers, chills and chest pain were signals that he was suffering a heart attack. At the time, Jerry made his way to UnityPoint Health – Finley Hospital’s emergency room, where he was quickly checked in and taken to the Cath Lab for the balloon angioplasty. 

During the procedure with Dr. Tim Martin, it was discovered that there was 95% blockage on the right side of Jerry’s heart. After the procedure was finished, Jerry was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for an overnight observation. 

From starting his Finley Hospital journey in the emergency room to the Cath Lab and ICU, Jerry was impressed with the care he received. 

“Everyone was very professional and did their jobs, while making me feel relaxed,” Jerry said. “I wasn’t ever scared or worried about the what-ifs. Everyone knew what they were doing and worked really well with each other.” 

Once Jerry was on the road to recovery, he made the choice to enroll in the Cardiac Rehabilitation program at Finley Hospital. The Cardiac Rehabilitation program is an individualized treatment plan that includes evaluation and instruction on physical activity, nutrition, stress management and other health-related areas for patients with various diagnoses, such as heart attack, stable angina, angioplasty or stents, heart bypass or valve surgery, heart failure or heart transplant.

Heading into the program, Jerry had set two specific goals: lose weight and eat better. Now, that his time in Cardiac Rehab is finished, Jerry can proudly say he’s achieved those goals. 

“I feel so much better and have much more energy,” Jerry said. “I’ve lost 40 pounds, and I’ve also been maintaining it. What I put into Cardiac Rehab, I got out of it.” 

During the Cardiac Rehab sessions, Jerry was given education on food choices and was encouraged to build up stamina through physical exercise. 

Each session, Jerry was able to pick up his speed and incline while walking on the treadmill, and he eventually worked his way up to a speed of 4.0 and 10 on the incline.

As a result of those changes during his exercise, Jerry improved his exercise capacity by 280%.

“They are able to push you a little bit to where you aren’t overthinking it,” Jerry said. “They let you work at your own pace and show you how to build yourself up. You’d know if you were pushing yourself too much, and you just had to listen to my heart.”

Looking back on his experience with Cardiac Rehab, Jerry is thankful for the foundation the program set on his journey toward a healthier lifestyle. 

He developed a routine for Cardiac Rehab by coming three times a week for six weeks and that routine made a difference. 

“After doing it for six weeks, I had myself into a routine that I can continue doing at home,” Jerry said. “It taught me how to watch what I eat and to cut back. They really taught me the little things that have had a big impact.” 

Jerry knows the benefits of the Cardiac Rehab program and based on his positive experience, he recommends the program to others.

“If someone has a choice of doing it or not doing it, I think they should do it,” Jerry said. “It’s just going to make them better. Everything I had in Cardiac Rehab was a good experience.”

To learn more about the Cardiac Rehab program at Finley Hospital, click here.