Clyde Frankie Gets Back to Basics with Cardiac Rehab

February 4, 2013 8:30 a.m.

Clyde Frankie feared he could be vulnerable to heart disease after a cousin his age and his uncle both died of a heart attack 15 years ago. A former health and science teacher in the Charleston School district, he already understood the value of nutrition and exercise and tried to live a healthy lifestyle.

As a proactive measure, he started having yearly physicals and undergoing regular stress tests to establish a good baseline of health. He began taking cholesterol- lowering medications, and fortunately had no major risk factors for heart disease.

So when he was awakened in the early morning hours of Oct. 3 with a coughing spasm that left him with what felt like a pulled chest muscle and pain that radiated up into the neck, he woke his wife, Jane, and asked her to take him to the hospital to get it checked out.

Initially, everything checked out fine, but blood work indicated he had experienced a heart incident. By 10 am, he was in Springfield undergoing a cardiac catheterization, in which blockages in two arteries were found. He was fortunate to have significant collateral circulation established in other arteries around the blockage to compensate for the blockage.

After a weeklong recovery at home, he returned to work and started Phase II of the Monitored Exercise Testing Services (METS) cardiac rehab program at Sarah Bush Lincoln. “The staff was great to work with as they monitored my progress and continued to reinforce healthy choices and lifestyle. It is definitely a family atmosphere of a caring well versed staff in the METS lab.”

Faithfully attending the 12-week program, Frankie graduated onto Phase III rehab and continues to participate three times a week at EIU’s Rec Center. By attending the 5:30 am class, he can get to work on time as the principal of Casey-Westfield High School. Sarah Bush Lincoln METS staff continues to monitor the rehab program and reinforce a healthy lifestyle through daily exercise.

“By getting up early and going to the 5:30 am class, I’ve made my health the first priority of the day and it allows me to establish a consistent exercise program. If I left it to the end of the day, it would be too easy to miss a day or two each week,” Frankie said.

He remains committed to his new routine. “I am strongly motivated to be around – for my wife, my three kids and seven grandkids,” he said.

“My rehab program has allowed me to reconnect with many former acquaintances and co-workers from the area. We can hold each other accountable to be there, so when someone doesn’t make it, one of us may be placing a call to check on them.”

He added, “I spent 18 years as a health and science teacher and my wife is a dietitian, so what I learned in cardiac rehab was a great review for me. It reminded me about the role stress plays in heart disease, how important it is to maintain good eating patterns and exercise. Comfort foods can be an easy choice, but they may not be the best choice to make.”

The most important thing he learned is that even though he didn’t have any of the high risk factors for heart disease other than his age, he was still at risk. “A lot of people die healthy,” he said. “You know your body better than anyone else. If you’re having pain or discomfort, don’t try to be the typical male and tough it out. Go get it checked out. It’s a whole lot easier to recover from smaller heart incidents than when there is significant damage.”

To learn more about cardiac rehab programs, contact The Heart Center at Sarah Bush Lincoln, 258- or 348-2177.

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