Jim’s Story

Jim Wasson is a 52-year-old process engineer. Like many men his age, Jim likes to grill, play with his grandkids and enjoy the great outdoors. In January, Jim’s life turned upside down. He had a heart attack.

Jim“I had the classic symptoms. At first, I thought it was indigestion. I had pain in my chest that went to the back of my throat. The pain would go away and then come back and I felt it clench up. I took an antacid, but that didn’t help. Then I had tingly numbness in my fingers and broke into sweat. That’s when I knew it was a heart attack,” said Jim. Instead of calling 911, he asked his wife to take him to the ER. He said he had the classic signs but classic denial too. Jim advises: “When you feel that chest pain, just go immediately to the hospital….don’t wait around. Call 911.”

Jim was treated for his heart attack at the cardiac catheterization lab at West Chester Hospital where doctors placed a stent in his artery to allow blood to flow freely. In order to be able to go back to work, Jim had to go through a cardiac rehabilitation program, and he chose Daniel Drake Center’s cardiac rehabilitation program at West Chester Hospital.

The program consisted of exercise to strengthen his heart and education classes on diet, weight management, and the effects of medications and physical activity on the body. Jim said he wanted to be even stronger than he was prior to his heart attack. “What’s nice is that cardiac rehab is a controlled environment where I don’t have to worry about working myself too hard because I’m hooked up to a heart monitor that is being watched by a nurse. It’s like being at a health club but with the added security of nurses and therapists watching over you to ensure your safety.”

Before his heart attack, Jim was on treadmill five to six days a week and did weight training. “When I started rehabilitation, I still had a lot of fear. I wasn’t sad or depressed, I was just afraid to push myself too hard and have another heart attack. But rehab has helped me push myself within healthy boundaries and gain back confidence,” Jim said.

“If your doctor recommends cardiac rehabilitation, do it!” Jim says. “Your chances of having another heart attack increase if you don’t take care of it. Take care of yourself and make it a lifestyle. Understand how to change. This rehab program helps you to create that change for yourself.”

Some of the changes Jim has had made include becoming more self-aware, working out smarter, eating a healthier diet and watching his sodium intake. He just graduated from the program after completing 36 sessions, but his work doesn’t end here. He said he’ll continue moving forward with cardio workouts, monitoring his diet and taking into consideration all he’s learned along the way.

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