Patient StoriesMarch 5 2024

Patient Story - Jack

Jack and his wife Karen moved from the Chicago area to Lenoir City 10 years ago to be near five of their 10 grandchildren. Jack retired from his career as a project manager with IBM at the age of 65. As part of his plan to actively manage his health, he became a Certified Personal Trainer and continued working part-time as trainer at a local gym. In addition to making exercise and health a priority, Jack maintains a very busy life, involved with family, photography, writing poetry, teaching and learning to play the guitar.

In August 2023, Jack noticed a sudden drop in his performance when exercising. “I couldn’t go as far, and I was out of breath more quickly,” he said. “One of the benefits of exercise is you pay attention to what you can do. If things start to go south, it will show up quickly.”

After talking with his cardiologist, Jack was scheduled for a stress test. The doctors identified three blockages in his cardiac arteries. He received two stents that reopened the arteries and restored blood flow. “The need for two stents scared the heck out of me,” he said. “I was staring mortality in the face.”

Jack made an appointment with Andew Sorey, Manager, Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation at UT Medical Center and learned about his options for cardiac rehab. He opted for our hybrid program, which permits the patient to meet once a week in person for carefully planned and monitored exercise while completing the rest of their weekly rehab exercise routine on their own. “I talked to other programs, but decided to go with UT Medical Center because of the hybrid availability,” he said.

Jack’s first session with cardiac rehab was in October 2023. As a result of the program, the residual stable angina discomfort Jack initially experienced went away. “With the absence of all chest pain, I now feel more confident about exercising. I also have more stamina,” he said. “One benefit to rehab is helping people overcome their fear of exercising. Having worked as a personal trainer, I have more knowledge about exercise than most people, but with confirmed heart problems, exercise was a frightening thing.”

In the program, Jack appreciated how he learned to exercise differently for his current condition, changing his exercise routine by putting more emphasis on cardio conditioning. He also received the most current information on improving eating and sleeping habits, reducing lipids and cholesterol, dealing with stress and developing a plan for post cardiac rehab.

Now 80, Jack believes that managing his health is the most important thing he has to do. “If you have a cardiac issue that comes up, doing cardiac rehab is essential. If you don’t have your health, nothing else matters,” he said. “The team approach at the UT Cardiac Rehab was a great example of the axiom that ‘no one of us knows more than all of us.’ Even with my 13 years of personal training experience, UT’s Cardiac Rehab program helped me acquire healthier habits and better ways of managing my health.”