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Don's Story: Cardiac Rehab

Don Fick suffered a heart attack while on vacation with his family. After his heart attack, Don made cardiac rehab a priority in his recovery.

Cardiac rehab ... became a priority for me after I returned home.

Don Fick: Cardiac Rehab Patient

Cardiac rehab gave Don a structured setting under the watchful eye of medical staff as he worked to restore his health and resume a normal lifestyle.

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We were on vacation. At first it was mildly uncomfortable. It wasn’t anything that I thought was serious—like a little bit of indigestion or a little bit of cramping. And I could easily understand how other people in a similar situation could be stubborn and just ignore the symptoms. I continued driving for a couple more minutes and the pain gradually increased, and it went from my waist up to my shoulders. I knew I had a problem, so I pulled the car over and we got out. It was important that I stopped at the point, because we were driving away from the hospital, so every minute in the wrong direction would have made the situation worse.

My name is Don Fick, and I’m 42 years old, and I had a heart attack.

Life comes rushing back very quickly. Clients expect you to be back at work, they are waiting for projects to get delivered. The kids need to get to their baseball practice or soccer practice. Life goes on. And you still got to earn a paycheck, and all of those stressors come rushing back pretty quickly.

Cardiac rehab is a good escape a little bit from all of those things. I wasn’t familiar with cardiac rehab, but I was intrigued. I thought that getting into a cardiac rehab program quickly would make a difference for me, and it became a priority for me after I returned home.

Coming out of a heart attack, even four weeks afterwards, I still wasn’t confident with what I physically could do. And so cardiac rehab would give me that in a structured setting where I had medical staff available to give me support if I needed it and to sort of set me on the right path.

I was very enthusiastic about getting into it, because I saw it as a necessary step to being able to restore the things that I had lost – to get to a point where I could be active again with my sons, spend time with my wife, being able to do things I wanted to do – and I saw rehab as an important step to getting there.

And I think I’m getting there. I think I’m at the point where I’m finding enough accomplishment that I want to carry it on for myself afterwards.


Tom Weiser is CardioSmart

Tom has had two heart attacks triggered by familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). He has become a vocal and educated advocate for his disease and a positive example for his four children.

Bradley Smith is CardioSmart

After a heart attack, Bradley Smith dramatically improved his heart health and reduced his risk for a second heart attack by attending cardiac rehab, changing his diet and taking his medications faithfully.

Cardiac Rehabilitation Basics

Cardiac rehabilitation is a combination of regular exercise, healthy eating, stress reduction, and medical therapy. In addition, those who smoke receive guidance to help them quit for good.

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