A Renewed Life

Trey Meadows Patient Image

Trey Meadows shares the message that his health is on track after Parkwest cardiac

Getting His Heart Back on Track

When Trey Meadows woke up in the middle of the night with shoulder pain, he wasn’t sure why.

“I thought maybe I had a muscle strain,” he says. “I actually went and laid on a heating pad.”

When he began perspiring for no apparent reason, Meadows decided it was time to get help. “I drove myself to the hospital. I didn’t know I was actively having a heart attack.”

Today, Meadows is not only fully recovered after heart surgery at Parkwest Medical Center, but also thriving after following up with cardiac rehab. He says Parkwest Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation gave him the tools he needed to get back to a better life.

Life-Changing Choices

The source of Meadows’ symptoms was an ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). It’s a severe and dangerous type of heart attack, often called a “widow maker.” He says he was told that if he hadn’t made the choice to get to Parkwest Medical Center when he did, the heart attack could have killed him.

“It was a reality check,” Meadows says.

Parkwest Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation is a place where heart patients regain strength and stamina with physical training
that’s closely supervised by medical staff. Patients also receive education on matters of the heart, like heart-smart eating at
restaurants and healthy cooking at home.

Rehab begins with a complete assessment of the patient’s physical and mental well-being. Then a personalized program of exercise is created. Meadows went all in, never missing a session.

Amy Dale, RN, Case Manager Head shot
Amy Dale, RN, Case Manager

“He met his blood pressure goal, his LDL cholesterol had reduced from 132 to 72, his aerobic exercise was on target at 220 minutes for his final week,” reports Amy Dale, RN, case manager at Parkwest Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation. “He lost body fat, and his body’s ability to expend energy increased 97 percent.”

Meadows also discovered something he hadn’t even realized was in the works while he was gaining physical health: his mental health improved too.

“It’s like I was sharper – I felt a little more, you know, just vibrant,” Meadows says. “That was the side benefit even though I was really focused on the physical part of it.”

A heart attack is mentally jarring, something most people think will never happen to them. Dale says stress, anxiety and depression are common as life suddenly seems very fragile, but cardiac rehab is a safe place for patients to start over and regain control of their lives.

“The physical activity is done while wearing a heart monitor and with the assistance of healthcare professionals,” Dale says.
“And being around other patients who have experienced heart attack is often healing as you share your own story with others who are in a similar situation.”

A Great Start to a Better Way of Living

Cardiac rehab was only the beginning for Meadows. The exercise and diet lessons he learned and the improvement in his overall health inspired him to keep going. By the time three months passed, he had lost 16 pounds.

The hospital saved his life, and cardiac rehab improved it. “The difference was cardiac rehab,” Meadows says.“I wouldn’t be here without them.”

Dale says the ultimate goal of cardiac rehab is to have a positive impact on the lives of heart patients long after they’ve finished the last session.

“From the first day, we begin having discussions about what they will continue to do for exercise when they complete the program,” Dale says. “Our goal is to not only give someone a longer life, but a better quality of life.”

For Meadows, there’s no holding back. He’s living life wide open and feeling better than ever.

“I needed someone to show me the path, and that’s what cardiac rehab did,” Meadows says. “That’s the reality of it. I feel like I’m back!

Eat Your Heart Out

Most of us presume we have a pretty good idea how to eat for a healthy heart. Trey Meadows certainly thought he did until he had a chance to learn from a registered dietitian at Parkwest Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation.

“I’m almost embarrassed,” Meadows says. “I guess I was naïve.” In addition to medically supervised exercise to regain strength and stamina, he took advantage of education from dietary expert Allison Bridges, RD.

“The dietitian was golden,” Meadows says. “I thought ‘I don’t eat fast food, I don’t drink soft drinks, I’m generally eating better than the regular population, so I’m probably OK’ – but I wasn’t.”

Patients in the Parkwest cardiac rehab program can attend five educational classes on topics ranging from weight management and healthy eating choices to shopping for and preparing better meals. The dietitian is also available for one on-one meetings with patients.

“She enlightened me on some things that I just didn’t know – hidden fat, hidden sodium – things I wasn’t checking on,” Meadows says.

Meadows shares a few of the lessons he’s learned:

The benefits of olive oil. “When your cholesterol is up, you think you shouldn’t eat as much butter. So I replaced that with coconut oil, thinking that’s a little more pure. But what she said – and she was right – was you should be using olive oil.”

Table service isn’t always healthy. “I thought a meal prepared at a restaurant has got to be better than fast food. But I wasn’t counting calories and sodium and things like that.”

Reading food labels is a game changer. “Because of the way it’s packaged, it looks healthy, feels healthy, it’s got some veggies in it, but this is probably exactly where I was killing myself with sodium.”

His dietary changes were small steps. There was no drastic overhaul, and it’s been easier than Meadows expected.

“I didn’t change my life,” he says. “I just changed the little habits in my life. I think when you accept that you’re just changing little things and it’s not that big, your goals are easier to achieve.”

Learn More…

The goal of cardiopulmonary rehabilitation is to safely restore physical fitness and function for people who have recently had serious cardiac or pulmonary events. The Parkwest Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation team includes:

  • A cardiologist/cardiovascular surgeon
  • Physicians
  • Counselors
  • Pharmacists
  • An internist
  • A rehabilitation nurse
  • An exercise physiologist
  • A respiratory therapist
  • A dietitian and nutritionist

Patients repeatedly say it’s well worth the investment both in time and in their health, and research shows that patients who participate in cardiac rehab are more likely to have better recovery outcomes. You can learn more about cardiac rehabilitation and heart health at treatedwell.com in the Our Services section or by calling 865-531-5560.

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