Steps to heart health

Cardiac patient Neville Anderson reckons he’d “have to be the luckiest bloke alive”.

The 72 year-old Traralgon man’s heart has stopped twice during a 27-year history of cardiac problems.

He has undergone 12 stent procedures to open his arteries and is now focused on changing his lifestyle.

As part of this commitment, Mr Anderson attends the cardiac rehabilitation program at Latrobe Regional Hospital.

“I’m really feeling the benefits of the exercise and how it works on your heart,” Mr Anderson said.

It’s the emotional support, too, that is helping give Mr Anderson a fresh outlook.

“The thing that gets to you is the mental aspect,” he said.

“But this group is terrific.”

The five-week program provides people who have experienced a cardiac event with an hour of education and an hour of exercise under the guidance of a physiotherapist.

“You have a heart attack, you’re rushed to a Melbourne hospital, you have invasive surgery and you come home and it can be quite frightening and overwhelming,” program coordinator Liz Irving said.

“People aren’t sure what exercise they are safe to take part in, whether they can walk to the corner.”

Ms Irving said through the program, heart patients could exercise and build confidence in a secure environment.

Forty-seven year-old Ron Robinson had bypass surgery in February and agreed there was a period of uncertainty for heart patients about how active they should be.

“They tell you, you can only lift a kettle of water,” Mr Robinson said.

He said he walked each day and the rehab program helped him to maintain discipline.

Ms Irving said a combination of cardiac rehabilitation programs and lifestyle changes reduced the risk of future cardiac events.

“The goal is this will encourage everyone continuing on to exercise 30 minutes a day for the rest of their life,” she said.