Charles takes heart in cardiac rehab

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Tommy Charles never imagined he’d entertain the same bad habit he’d seen consume his father’s life — and even contribute to his death.

But three packs of cigarettes a day and one heart attack later, Charles “got like Dad.”

At 55 years old, Charles’ father died from a heart attack. He smoked three packs of cigarettes a day and was overweight and inactive.

At 46, only nine years younger than the age his father died, Charles himself suffered a heart attack.

Although working all day with occasional twinges of chest pain, Charles said nothing.

The pain returned several times as the evening wore on, but when it increased in severity later, he finally spoke up. His wife insisted they go to the emergency department at Roane Medical Center in Harriman.

“I smoked my last cigarette that evening while watching the news,” Charles said. “As I inhaled, my chest was bustin’ like a knife was in my heart.

“When the emergency room doctor at Roane Medical Center asked if I smoked, I told him ‘Doctor, I just smoked my last cigarette.’”

Once he returned home, Charles began living a heart-health conscious life, receiving regular annual checkups and maintaining a healthy diet and walking daily.

During a checkup in 1997, Charles’ doctor detected the return of blockage and inserted a stent to reopen the artery. After the stent was placed, Charles was referred to cardiac rehabilitation at Roane Medical Center.

Now at 73 years old, Charles attends the Take Heart Cardiac Rehabilitation program at Roane Medical Center three days a week.

“Mr. Charles is a veteran of our cardiac rehab program,” said Steve Oran, manager of cardiopulmonary rehabilitation at Roane Medical Center.

“He’s been here 15 years since we first opened in 1997. It’s inspiring to see the progress and accomplishments he’s made throughout the years,” Oran added. “I’m sure he could teach me a thing or two now.”

With personalized rehabilitation exercise plans and educational courses on healthy heart maintenance, the Take Heart Cardiac Rehabilitation program provides patients a place to mend and strengthen their hearts.

“I sell this program all the time. It does so much for me,” said Charles.

“Suffering a heart condition is not the end of the world. You can live a near-normal life if you take care of yourself.”

Charles starts his personalized rehabilitation regimen with a five-minute warm-up by walking laps around the room. He then completes several repetitions of steps, rehabilitates on a hand bike and exercises on a stationary bike.

Charles also lifts the heaviest sets of weights at the rehabilitation facility. He originally started at 2-3 pounds and now lifts 10 pounds.

Charles completes his rehabilitation regimen by walking on the treadmill.

The Take Heart program is conducted in a safe, hospital-based exercise environment, with staff always available to observe patients and intervene in the event of an emergency.

Specialized equipment is provided to help maximize health while minimize discomfort for patients experiencing joint or muscle pain or weakness.

The Roane Medical Center cardiopulmonary rehabilitation program also offers a First Steps to Fitness Health Maintenance and Improvement Program, as well as educational courses on nutrition to help patients maintain a healthier lifestyle.

For more about Roane Medical Center’s cardiopulmonary rehabilitation program and other cardiology services, call 316-0000 or visit www.roanemedical.com.

Roane Medical Center is recognized as a Joint Commission Top Performer in Key Quality Measures.

A member of Covenant Health, Roane Medical Center aims to offer personalized patient care through its quality medical and surgical care, emergency services, prevention programs, rehabilitation support and health education.

The hospital staff has expertise in specialized services that include diagnostic imaging, cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation. Roane Medical Center also offers services through its subsidiaries, RMC Patricia Neal Outpatient Center, Roane Medical Sleep Center and Roane Medical Women’s Center.

Founded in 1939, it strives to offer the right blends of technical expertise, medical professionalism and hometown values.