On the subject of heart incidents, Larry Loreman, 72, is no novice. It all began 27 years ago when Larry went to see his doctor for a routine checkup. The appointment unexpectedly resulted in triple bypass surgery.
For the next five years, Larry continued with life as he normally would, until he suddenly collapsed while refereeing a high school soccer game.
“I went down and had two stents and two balloons placed,” Larry remembered. “After that, I was fine, until October 2019.”
[Between his second and third heart incident, Larry’s cardiologist retired, and he was referred to The University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus's Patrick Sheehy, M.D.]
“[In October 2019] I told my wife, I wasn't feeling good,” he said. “I had a low-grade fever and she insisted we go to the emergency room. They initially said I had a UTI, but they made sure to do some additional routine blood work and an angiogram. During which the doctor found a 99 percent blockage and a 90 percent blockage and fixed those.”
With the blockages remedied, Larry left the hospital with high hopes he would not need to return anytime soon for a heart-related incident.
But, in July of 2021, he went in to see Dr. Sheehy for his annual checkup, which included a precautionary angiogram, given Larry’s history. While it’s a little unconventional, it’s a blessing that Dr. Sheehy suggested the test considering he found another blockage of about 99 percent.
“I was a little surprised because it's not like I don't exercise,” he said. “After my third heart episode, I began the Cardiac Rehab Program and I became so aware of my diet and exercise. Not that I didn’t know the difference between healthy and unhealthy choices before, but the program provides so much context. I've got 15,000 steps in just today. I think I just finished my 217th consecutive day of at least 10,000 steps. I lift weights, we have a treadmill and elliptical in the basement. It just proves it can happen to anyone.”
While working through the reality of experiencing a fourth heart incident, Dr. Sheehy referred Larry once again to the Cardiac Rehab Program at The University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus. With the recommendation, Larry was eager to continue his education and rehabilitation.
“They joked with me saying I was back for my master's degree,” he laughed referencing the response of the staff at the cardiac rehab program when he returned in 2021.
Linda Kurtz, MS, RN, CCRP, cardiac rehab registered nurse, explains the objective of the cardiac rehab program, “Our goal for all our patients is to optimize their health. Each rehab visit centers on exercise, but during the exercise session we have a captive audience to provide education. We teach our patients to live ‘heart healthy’ with a variety of education topics […] Most of our patients attend rehab three times per week for up to 12 weeks. This number of contacts with a patient gives us a unique opportunity to impact their health. Ultimately our goal is to improve the health of each or our patients as well as make them an active participant in their health and health care.”
“I found such comfort and value in the Cardiac Rehab Program,” he said. “Everyone there is unbelievably kind and helpful. I think the thing that impressed me the most about them is they were always positive. In the 72 visits, because I did all 36 both times, I never heard them chastise or talk down to any of the people in the program, or each other. They're just good people.”
“Great doctors,” he beamed. “And what has impressed me is their support staff, you know, the administrative people and other things. I'll be honest, when I’ve gone to other healthcare systems the attitude was kind of negative and it was like they were perfunctory. They were just going through the motions. I've never had that feeling from any of the people that work at St. Francis. They are so professional and so kind.”
When asked about the advice he’d give others who may be interested or eligible for the Cardiac Rehab Program, he said, “I would say that if you are offered the opportunity, it can do nothing but help you!”
For more information about the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at the University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus, call 785-295-8947.