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Everyone knows that exercise is good for the heart. The Peter Munk Cardiac Centre's (PMCC) Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Program (Cardiac Rehab) team promotes this message to all its patients.
Twenty-eight year-old Alex Holton, a former PMCC patient, is cycling across Canada this summer with his partner, Vanessa Parlette, to raise awareness about cardiac rehab's important role in physical and psychological recovery after heart surgery. On July 28 he visited the same TWH Cardiac Rehab team that cared for him in 2005 after his emergency surgery. Surgeons repaired an eight-centimetre dissection in his ascending aorta, a potentially life-threatening condition where there is bleeding into and along the wall of the aorta, the major artery carrying blood out of the heart.
"Cardiac rehab gave me access to exercise equipment in a safe environment monitored by health care professionals and provided me with a judgment-free space full of people who share similar experiences," says Alex, who recognizes the program's role in physical recovery, but says it's also crucial for psychological healing.
Alex and Vanessa were greeted by Dr. Caroline Chessex, Cardiac Rehab's Clinical Director and her team, including dietitians, exercise physiologists, pharmacists, nurses, as well as a group of patients currently enrolled in PMCC's Cardiac rehab program. This multidisciplinary team develops personalized exercise programs for patients like Alex that are tailored to each patient's individual cardiac risk profile.
Just as it did for Alex, the multidisciplinary team tailors exercise programs for patients' individual cardiac risk profiles.
"Cardiac rehab can prolong patients' lives and reduce their risk of having a second heart attack, or needing a second heart surgery," says Dr. Chessex.
For more information about Alex and his cross-Canada journey, visit his blog (www.avclubbiking.ca).