Cardiac Rehab Patient Gets Good Workout at Dignity Health St. Mary Medical Center, Doctor’s Orders

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According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), cardiac rehabilitation provides benefit for people living with congestive heart failure (CHF), as well as for men and women following cardiac surgery or interventional cardiology procedures. Dignity Health St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach recently upgraded its Cardiac Rehabilitation Unit to better accommodate patients.

A good workout experience is important to patients like Arthur Grant, 70, of Lakewood who has completed his course of post-operative cardiac conditioning. One of the 8.9 million Americans diagnosed with coronary artery blockage, he was treated successfully.

Grant plans to attend an open house for the newly updated Cardiac Rehab Unit on Thursday, Aug. 7 between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. where he will work with an exercise physiologist to demonstrate exercises that are useful for patients with various cardiac conditions, each of whom has a different rehabilitation regimen.

Grant underwent a quintuple heart bypass operation in January and entered the Cardiac Rehab program just four weeks after surgery. “I do a stretching exercise with my shoulders and neck, then six-pound hand weights: curling my arms up at the elbow, lifting in front of me, out to my sides – 10 of those; then over to cables and I pull weights up from the floor. Then I lay down and do sit-ups, stair-stepping, the hand bicycle for six minutes, and the treadmill. Then I drink water slowly and then stretch.”

Cardiac Rehab has become part of the treatment plan for many people with various forms of heart disease, including post-operative patients like Grant and other patients with a condition known as congestive heart failure (CHF). According to the HF-ACTION study, exercise sessions three times per week over 12 weeks were associated with better quality of life and exercise capacity. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) determined that cardiac rehabilitation provides benefits for patients with heart failure.

James Jengo, MD, medical director for the Cardiac Rehab Unit at St. Mary Medical Center, said patients with CHF achieve greater quality of life by following a medically supervised rehabilitation program than by convalescing at their own pace. “Patients are supervised by cardiac nurses while being taught by exercise physiologists how to safely condition,” said Dr. Jengo. “The team not only teaches but answers questions, and immediately communicates any concerns to the patient’s doctor. Cardiac Rehab patients feel better and tend to have fewer complications.”

Pam Fair, director of Critical Care at Dignity Health St. Mary Medical Center, said that patients with congestive heart failure are among the fastest-growing segment of patients coming to the Cardiac Rehab Unit lately. The Cardiac Rehabilitation Unit was updated recently to better accommodate patients. The upgrade includes rubber-padded flooring, new furniture, repainted and redecorated walls.

“Whether a patient is recovering from cardiac surgery, post-cardiac procedure, post-heart attack or living with congestive heart failure, our individualized programs are beneficial,” said Fair. “Our program provides dietary education from a registered dietitian. Diabetes education is provided by a certified diabetic educator. The staff provides education on risk factors for heart disease and how to start and maintain a lifetime exercise program.”

Tom Salerno, president/CEO of St. Mary Medical Center, said the Cardiac Rehab Unit is one of many programs designed to help patients do their best after they leave the hospital. “The commitment to our patients is for life,” he said. “Our care extends beyond the hospital stay through our numerous outpatient programs and clinics where we continue to serve the wide-ranging needs of our patients.”

For more information about St. Mary Medical Center’s Cardiac Rehab Open House, please call 562.491.9015. Go online and take your heart assessment at

About St. Mary Medical Center
Founded by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word in 1923, St. Mary Medical Center, a member of Dignity Health, offers a full continuum of acute care services to the Greater Long Beach community. With more than 600 physicians, more than 1,350 employees and 389 private rooms, St. Mary is committed to providing a unique balance of leading-edge technology, while ensuring dignity and compassionate care of body, mind and spirit to the community it serves. Dignity Health St. Mary Medical Center enjoys a reputation for quality, including Healthgrades awards: three consecutive years of Maternity Excellence Awards (2011-2013); two consecutive years of Patient Safety Excellence Awards (2012-2013); Stroke Care Excellence Award (2011, 2012, 2014); a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence designation by the American Society for Bariatric Surgery, a CIGNA Bariatric Center of Excellence designation, and a Blue Distinction Center for Cardiac Care designation. For more information, please visit us at

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Sharon Greengold
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