After years of being housebound because of a weak heart, Bill Cumberlidge is now living an active and vital life, thanks to the Cardiac Rehabilitation program at Hannibal Regional Hospital.

For 25 years, concern for his weakened heart prevented Bill from participating in cardiac rehab.  “I had sudden death syndrome,” explained Bill.  “In 2002, I had a pacemaker placed. I finally came to Dr. Pervez Alvi (cardiologist, Hannibal Regional Medical Group) last year.  Dr. Alvi asked me if I would try cardiac rehab.”

Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised program combining exercise, diet and education in order to slow or stop the progression of heart disease.  “We educate and motivate,” explained Tracy Yakes, RN, Cardiac Rehab Coordinator at Hannibal Regional Hospital.  “Our job is not only to strengthen the heart through monitored exercise and education, but also to build the patient’s confidence after a cardiac event so they are not fearful of starting or continuing a healthy lifestyle.”

“I started rehab at a very slow pace,” Bill said.  “The first day I could only exercise for six minutes and the staff had to help me off the machine.” 

Tracy explained, “We see and assess each person in order to make in individualized treatment plan.  We consider the risk factors for the patient as well as their progress in the program.  The patient’s physician is involved from the beginning with the referral for cardiac rehab and the exercise prescription.  The physician  reviews the patient’s progress and heart rhythm strips for each session.”

Despite the slow start, Bill was determined to make changes in his life.  “As I started to improve, I could work out for longer times.  I could see I was getting stronger and stronger,” he said.  “As I was getting better, I wanted more time to work out."  Inspired by his success exercising at cardiac rehab, Bill decided to increase his exercise schedule by arranging other locations in which to walk and purchasing a treadmill to use at home.

At cardiac rehab, Bill was also provided with education to help him make changes toward a healthier lifestyle.  “Each time I went, they gave me informational sheets that I could take home and read that would help me.  They had the best information with something different each time I came in,” Bill explained.

Part of that information was on diet and food choices.  “I started losing weight.  After meeting with a nutritionist, I put myself on a diet.  I’ve lost over 70 pounds,” Bill said.  Bill receives meals from the Nutrition Center and is grateful to them for their willingness to prepare his meals to his specific diet requirements by including more salads and fresh vegetables.  “Now I’m slim and trim, like I used to be! The weight loss helped my heart.” 

Bill’s cardiac rehab-inspired changes go beyond diet and exercise. Bill said, “I was on 22 medications at one time.  Since cardiac rehab, I only need half as many medications. My pacemaker had to be adjusted because my heart didn’t need it as often.  I am able to do more activities – I’m busier than I’ve ever been able to do!”

Bill is now able to maintain a busy schedule ministering to others.  “God has called me to be an evangelist,” he explained.  He provides church services to one nursing homes, makes personal visits with nursing home patients and has joined a religious singing group, that alternates between two nursing homes each Tuesday night.  Bill is also excited about visiting family in Ohio, a trip that previously would have been too difficult for him.

“Cardiac rehab was one of the best things I could have done in my life, for myself and others,” Bill explained.  “I can do so much more now.  I feel like a whole different person!”

Donald Ward and his wife, of Bonaporte, Iowa, were on their way to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport for a vacation in Phoenix, Arizona when they took an unexpected detour.  That detour led to Hannibal Regional Hospital.

As Donald Ward was driving down the highway he experienced pressure in his chest and began sweating. He told his wife to pull over so she could begin driving and he could rest until he felt better.  “I didn’t feel worth a darn. Period,” said Donald. While he was lying in the passenger seat, his wife made an “executive” decision to take a detour towards a helpful blue highway hospital sign.  When Donald realized he was outside the Hannibal Regional Hospital Emergency Department, he told his wife he was not going in.  He wanted to wait in the car until he felt better. Luckily, his wife won the battle.

Donald was quickly diagnosed as having a heart attack in the Emergency Room of Hannibal Regional Hospital. Mark Shima, M.D., Interventional Cardiologist with Hannibal Regional Medical Group, performed catheterization and stent placement in less than one hour, putting a stent in a totally blocked artery of Donald’s heart.

“I definitely recommend Hannibal Regional Hospital to others.  I even told my local doctor what a wonderful hospital Hannibal Regional Hospital is,” said Donald.  When given the option of having a second procedure performed at Hannibal Regional Hospital or at a previous hospital he had visited in Iowa, Donald quickly chose Hannibal Regional Hospital.

Donald happily reported that he was able to travel to Phoenix, his original destination before the detour, and was able to watch his granddaughter graduate from University of Arizona.

A heart attack can catch anyone off guard, including those who are not high risk.  Mike Still, of Barry, Illinois, can testify to this fact.  Mike, a healthy carpenter who doesn’t smoke or drink, had a sudden heart attack at the age of 45.

“I had pressure in my chest and it was hard to catch my breath,” said Mike about his first symptoms.  He described them to his wife and told her he didn’t feel well.  The couple then decided to travel to Hannibal Regional Hospital’s Emergency Room.  Mike’s sister-in-law, who works with Hannibal Regional Medical Group, called ahead to let the hospital know that Mike was on his way.

When they came through the doors, the process of saving Mike’s life was initiated. Mark Shima, M.D., Interventional Cardiologist with Hannibal Regional Medical Group, quickly explained the procedure and found that Mike had a 99% blocked artery in his heart.  Upon diagnosis, the cardiology team moved efficiently to place a stent in his heart.

“From the time I first started having symptoms till I was out of surgery (Cardiac Catheterization Lab) and in my room in ICU, was an hour and a half,” stated Mike.  “And it was over.”

With the available and accessible quality of care that was immediately available to Mike, he recovered completely from his heart attack.  However, he continues to eat a healthy diet and walks at least a mile every night with his wife.

Mike recommends the wonderful staff and excellent patient centered care he received at Hannibal Regional Hospital.

“At the age of only 45, I had a heart attack,” expressed Mike.  “I would advise people to get to a hospital as fast as possible when they experience symptoms even if they are not sure that it is a heart attack.”