HEART MONTH SPOTLIGHT: Health First Heart Patient Pumped About Cardiac Rehab Success
By Space Coast Daily // February 1, 2023
February is American Heart Month
An exclusive exercise program helped Jeanne Fleckner have an amazing recovery. Now, it’s coming to Pro-Health & Fitness in Viera.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Mowing the lawn probably isn’t a big deal for most. Just don’t tell that to Jeanne Fleckner.
Last June, Fleckner was starting out in Health First’s Cardiac Rehab program following an open sternotomy aortic valve replacement. After surgery, she could only tolerate about 15 feet of walking – about 3 to 4 minutes of continuous exercise – before she’d need to take a break.
That’s not the case anymore. In early November, Fleckner joyfully celebrated her 82nd birthday with family and friends, in addition to graduating from Cardiac Rehab.
Oh, and mowing the lawn.
“This is definitely how you get better after going through something like this with your heart,” Fleckner said. “The program and the routine are what helped me recover from this.”
A Trip to the Heart Center
Earlier this year at home, Fleckner, known by her family and friends as the “Parisian Princess,” experienced an irregular heartbeat. Her neighbor quickly took her to Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center.
After finding out it was atrial fibrillation and her heart had a leaking valve, then going through consultation and surgery with Health First Cardiothoracic Surgeon Tamim Antaki, MD, Fleckner immediately felt comfortable with everyone she saw at the hospital’s Heart Center.
“Dr. Antaki was especially wonderful with my mom,” said her daughter, Suzanne Fleckner.
“Right after he met her, he would come into the room singing French songs to her. And she told him he was her favorite French singer during the start of surgery – that’s a special team! Everyone in the building, the Physician Assistants, the staff at Cardiac Rehab, everybody was amazing with her. We’re so grateful for this giant team.”
After successful surgery, Fleckner joined Health First’s Cardiac Rehab program. When she began the program, she could barely walk 15 feet without having to stop for a breath.
A 300% Improvement
The program’s designed for people discharged from the hospital after a cardiac event. Whether surgery was involved or not, the program assists patients in aligning their lifestyles in a way that’s best for their heart.
Think exercise, diet, and psychological mind shifts. It’s offered at 611 E. Sheridan Road, Melbourne, across from Holmes Regional Medical Center. There are also plans to open a second location in Winter 2023 at Pro-Health & Fitness-Viera.
Fleckner, who was born in Brittany, France, in 1940, before moving to Paris in 1966, began Cardiac Rehab last July. She said the staff were so nice to her and would say, “Yeah, you can do it, you will get better,” in such a nice, positive way.
At the one-month mark, Fleckner said she began to feel a huge difference in the way she felt. No more losing her breath. She was walking farther than ever, and most importantly, her heart’s pumping rate improved 300 percent.
The Phases of Improvement
Darren Hill, Health First Cardiac Rehabilitation Supervisor, and his team see people of all ages with heart conditions after an illness, typically those who’ve had surgery – varying from stent placement to a heart transplant.
This life-changing team includes a medical director, supervising physicians, nurses, and exercise physiologists to help with physical and psychological ways to make it a lifestyle.
The cardiac rehab program is made up of three phases:
■ Phase 1: It starts in the hospital as you’re recovering from a cardiac illness or surgery. As an inpatient, we put you on the path to a healthier heart by teaching you and showing you how to exercise at the right pace for you.
■ Phase 2: Once you’re out of the hospital, we’ll get you on the right track with our physician-supervised outpatient program, incorporating exercise, education, and teamwork. You’ll get access to electrocardiogram (ECG) heart-monitored exercise training, education, and counseling. And it’ll help you fully grasp your heart condition – and find ways to reduce the risk of future heart problems. Expect to spend an hour, three times a week, in the program. Customers are typically cleared for a total of 36 visits. (The program is based on the American Association of Cardio-Vascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation’s recommended model, along with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services guidelines.)
■ Phase 3: You’ve completed Cardiac Rehab. Now, our team tailors a plan for you so that you can continue an exercise program with cardiac rehab, Pro-Health & Fitness, or in the community. We’ll even meet with the staff to coordinate an orientation program designed just for you and your cardiac needs.
So, that’s how it works. But what about the benefits? They can include:
■ Stopping or reversing damage to your heart’s blood vessels
■ Improving your strength – and getting you back to your favorite activities
■ Controlling shortness of breath, or worse, chest pain
With Cardiac Rehab, patients can improve their heart’s ejection fraction – a measure of how much-oxygenated blood is pumped in one heartbeat.
Hill said Fleckner’s condition was improved by team coaching. There, she learned about risk factors, life habit changes, nutrition, medications, and psychological factors that contribute to cardiac health.
Fleckner still maintains her workout routine three times a week at her own health club. She’s also busy cooking, meeting with friends, and enjoying her family.
For information about cardiac rehabilitation, call 321-434-8889. The new Viera location inside Pro-Health & Fitness Center at 8705 N. Wickham Road in Melbourne opens this month.