Patients who've undergone open heart surgery, a catheterization or other heart-related procedure often take part in cardiac rehabilitation for education, counseling and exercise to minimize the risk of future heart problems.
Once they're done with cardiac rehab, they are on their own to maintain their physical conditioning and behavioral changes.
For the last 15 years, CAMC's HeartFit program has been a place for patients to continue to work on changing life styles and exercising.
"We ran out of room in the hospital and had to either cut the maintenance part of cardiac rehab (which many hospitals have done) or find a place to put it," said Ed Haver, MA, director, CAMC Cardiac Rehab. "The old Kanawha City roller skating rink entry way and back area was still intact 15 years ago at the Nautilus Fitness facility and a true mess. CAMC came in and cleaned it up and rebuilt it to meet our needs."
Exercise equipment available includes treadmills, stationary bicycles, air-dyne bicycles, Nu-Step recumbent steppers, rowing machines, Stairmasters, cross-country skiing machines and resistance training.
But unlike other gyms, HeartFit has Cardiac Rehab exercise physiologists who provide close supervision of participants. Also participants must be referred to HeartFit by a physician.
"We take a blood pressure everyday and do a quick check-over of the patient," Haver said. "If the blood pressure is elevated, the patient is out of heart rhythm or has other complaints, we will call their physician. We know the patients well and the staff is good at picking up when something isn't right. Our goal is to give them a safe, friendly place where they can exercise with like-minded individuals."
The exercise prescription and behavioral goals are updated regularly. Reports are shared with the participants and their physicians.
HeartFit also is very unique in that it has assigned class times (every hour on the hour starting at 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.) on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
"People sign up for a specific class and therefore they know when they go that their 'friends' will be there," Haver said. "And they know if they don't go their friends will worry about them. The classes become a true social outlet for the participants which also allows people to support each other."
"I can't believe we have been there 15 years. We have many patients who have grown old with us," Haver said.