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When It's a Matter of Life and Death

Matter of Life and DeathEvery second of every day, the heart pumps blood throughout the body, keeping you alive. When the heart is struggling to keep up, it loses strength, and can begin a long process of heart failure. Sixty-year-old Dave Thoma experienced this last fall.

He remembers going to a soccer game in Seattle with his son, and found he couldn’t walk up hills without getting severely winded and exhausted. His primary care physician referred him to a cardiologist. His doctors watched him closely, and Dave says, “I went from a treadmill test to having open heart surgery at St. Peter’s in two weeks.” Throughout his surgery and hospital stay, Dave says, thanks to the care he received, “I never felt in danger, I never felt real pain.”

After the initial recovery from surgery, Dave began participating in St. Peter Hospital’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program. The program is designed to rebuild strength and stamina, provide emotional support, and gain confidence. With the help of knowledgeable staff, the program provides exercises for the heart as well as education about staying healthy and caring for the heart.

Dave says, “Cardiac rehab is like having a personal trainer, but in addition to helping you exercise, they are checking your health too. I’ve lost 30 pounds and I feel like I’m 30 years old all over again!” Dave comes to the cardiac rehab center five days a week. He feels great about the program and values the camaraderie with other participants.

“It’s a positive feeling all the time. We’re like a family; we all have something in common.”

The cardiac and cardiac rehab programs are supported by Providence St. Peter Foundation, which recently purchased equipment to preserve blood during heart surgery, as well as equipment to monitor the heart while patients like Dave are participating in cardiac rehabilitation.

“My recovery has been great thanks to the physicians and nurses at surgery, all the way through rehab. The healing process has gone well because my heart isn't damaged. I wish I could tell everyone to get help at the first sign of trouble. It makes things a lot easier."

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