Cardiac Rehabilitation Provides Heart-Attack Survivor With a Fresh Start

August 18, 2020

Larry LeCrone was feeling tired all the time and knew something was off. But it wasn't until severe symptoms occurred in July 2018 that he realized something was seriously wrong. He'd stayed home from work because he wasn't feeling well, and "a horrible pain hit," he says. "It was like an electric shock to my whole body."

The pain went away, but his wife and youngest son convinced him to go to St. Mary's Regional Medical Center to get his symptoms checked out – a decision that likely saved his life. When he arrived at the hospital, the ER team and his cardiologist, John Bartolozzi, MD, determined that he'd had a heart attack and had three blockages in his vessels that needed to be treated right away. "I wound up with a triple bypass," he says.

Cardiac Rehab Close to Home

Rebuilding his strength after his heart surgery would not be easy, but Larry had plenty of motivation to get better. "I've got two sons that need their dad around," he says.

He was happy to learn that St. Mary's has a cardiac rehabilitation program for patients like him who need specialized care after a cardiac event. Patients in the program attend 36 sessions, three days a week, to focus on things like diet, exercise and emotional wellness, explains registered nurse Sara Miller. During exercise, they wear a heart monitor so the staff can ensure they're working at a safe level, she says. Support is also provided by the hospital chaplain, who helps with issues like depression and stress management. Also, patients learn about topics like cholesterol and medication.

A big part of recovery is "telling yourself, you survived this. You’re going to be OK," says Larry, who is 66. "Everybody there helps everybody else. We were almost like cousins getting together for a family reunion. It was an amazing support group." Working alongside other patients, Larry gradually built up his strength and stamina. He also learned about how to read food labels and make healthy diet choices.

A New, Healthier Way of Life

Today as part of his regular routine, Larry stays busy feeding the cows on a local dairy farm, which he loves. He’s also more active with his boys and no longer falls behind on family outings, like he used to do. On a family vacation last summer, he recalls going on a fishing trip that he might have been too tired to tackle in the past. "I managed to catch a shark," he says. "It was one of the coolest things in the world. I don't think I would have done that with my boys if I hadn't done rehab."

"It's like you get a do-over with life," he says of the turnaround he made at St. Mary's. "They got me motivated. They got me to make some changes. They got me exercising. They're a great bunch."