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Married for 48 years, Richard and Norma Flores do nearly everything together, including taking care of their heart health in Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program.
After suffering a heart attack in 2005, Norma joined the program at the suggestion of Dr. Philip Bajo, a Sharp Chula Vista-affiliated cardiologist and medical director of the program. She quickly saw the health benefits of the program’s daily exercise sessions and encouraged her husband to join her. Although he preferred to wait in the car while his wife exercised, Richard finally joined the program a few years later after undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery.
“After I retired, I turned into a couch potato,” Richard said. “I had high blood pressure and could barely walk without getting short of breath, but once I started the program, I felt great.”
The goal of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program is to help patients make heart-healthy lifestyle changes through exercise, education and regular health assessments. Each exercise session is supervised by medical experts, whom Norma credits with saving her husband’s life on the fateful day he went into cardiac arrest just minutes into a session.
“He was working out on the hand bike and the next thing I knew, he was on the floor,” Norma said. “I was terrified that I was going to lose him forever. All I could think was ‘How am I going to tell our sons?’”
Emergency personnel rushed to Richard and delivered CPR and electrical shocks. Their efforts worked and today, he and Norma are back as regular participants in the program. In addition to supporting each other in their efforts to get healthy, they also enjoy providing encouragement to new patients entering the program.
“It’s great being able to share ideas with people working toward the same goal,” Norma said. “It’s nice having each other’s support, too. We don’t let each other get lazy.”
For More Information
For more information about heart and vascular care at Sharp or to find a Sharp-affiliated doctor, search for a San Diego cardiologist or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. To find general information about heart and vascular care, visit Cardiovascular Diseases in Adult Health or read the Heart and Cardiovascular News archive.