TRURO – Keeping the human heart healthy is not a difficult job, but it’s one that requires constant attention, says a local cardiac consultant.
Dr. Masis Perk is thrilled with how Truro’s cardiac maintenance program, a medically-supervised exercise and education program, is advancing. Although the initiative began last August, program consultants have been monitoring its progress and results. They couldn’t be happier.
“People needing this (type of program) had to travel to Halifax before and now it’s here,” said Perk, the program’s leader.
The program came to the Colchester East Hants Health Centre, and takes place at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre twice a week, thanks to the Colchester East Hants Health Centre Foundation raising money to purchase $45,000 worth of exercise equipment, including treadmills, recumbent leg and arm bikes, a stepper and recumbent ellipitical.
It’s designed specifically for people dealing with first-time cardiac experiences such as heart attack, heart failure, coronary stenting and bypass surgery, said Perk.
“For most first-time (cardiac) experiences, there are a lot of unknowns. Learning things here and with others who have had similar issues gives you a guide to help manage (your cardiac health) and to know what warning signs to watch for,” said Perk. “It’s not rocket science but a lot of it is often done incorrectly because people don’t know.”
The 10-week program, which accommodates 12 participants in a group, is ongoing and accepts new people who qualify. The sessions include an education period in which cardiac-related topics are discussed, followed by exercise. Perk, a dietician, cardiac nurse and exercise trainer all assist with the program.
“It motivates patients and their families to take charge of their own cardiac well-being. This reduces the burden of the disease on themselves and also on the health-care system,” said Perk.
For Salmon River’s Albert Dunlap, 69, the program has changed his life for the better.
“I’ve learned better eating habits and I go to the gym now. I always walked before but it wasn’t enough,” said Dunlap, who had bypass surgery last summer.
Dunlap said if he didn’t participate in the cardiac program he “would’ve probably got back into bad habits.”
Program supporters said this is the perfect time to spread the word about the initiative because February is Heart Health Month. There have been about 40 people participate in the program so far and Perk said it’s possible it could be expanded to welcome others in the community at a later date. There is currently a waiting list to enroll but it’s “only a few weeks,” Perk said, adding new candidates must be referred by a family doctor.