Taking His Own Health To Heart
After his younger brother suffered a heart attack, a Shark River Hills man improves his cardiac health after receiving treatment at Monmouth Medical Center.
June is National Men’s Health Month, an observance created to heighten the aware- ness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of diseases such as heart disease, cancer and depression.
For Shark River Hills resident Michael Reid, it was heart disease awareness raised by his younger brother’s heart attack at age 48 and encouragement from his middle brother that led him to see a doctor about his own heart health. “My doctor sent me to Monmouth Medical Center for a cardiac CT scan, which showed a 94 percent blockage in one coronary artery, and percent blockage in two other arteries.”
A restaurant general manager for more than 30 years, Reid, 57, underwent a cardiac catheterization at Monmouth Medical Center’s (MMC) sister hospital, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Bruns- wick on July 7, where a stent was placed to open the blockage. He then turned to MMC’s Joel Opatut Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program, which is designed for individuals recovering from heart and lung disease.
Complicating his recovery was his November 21st long COVID diagnosis, which caused chronic fatigue as well as vision, hearing and short-term memory loss. “Long COVID is very serious—I was sleeping 12 hours a day and had to really push myself to get out of bed,” he says. “Now, thanks to the kind, dedicated and caring staff at Monmouth Medical Center, I am getting my life back.”
“These people really care about you—some people just go through the motions, but here they know everyone by name and they truly care about every patient,” he adds. “They are so extraordinarily kind; I know I have memory issues, and they are so patient and listen to my stories over and over.”
The Joel Opatut Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program is the first program in Monmouth County to be certified for both cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. Certification recognizes that programs reviewed by the national AACVPR board meet the highest standards of care, including a therapeutic plan, intervention and evaluation, certification of staff, preparedness for medical emergencies and physician involvement, explains RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group cardiologist Ajay Shah, M.D., Medical Director of Cardiac Rehab.
“The Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at Monmouth Medical Center is designed for individuals like Mr. Reid who are recovering from heart disease, as well as individuals who wish to improve their cardiac health through disease prevention and health promotion,” he says. “Through education, exercise and counseling, participants receive instruction to prevent or decrease risk factors for developing heart disease.”
For Reid, the benefits of the program include significant weight loss and gain in strength.
“A year and a half ago, I weighed 342 pounds, and now I’m down to 238,” he says. “I have seen unbelievable improvement; when I first joined the program I started by lifting 5 pound weights, and now I am lifting 40 pound weights and doing an hour of cardio training every day.”
And to give back and help raise awareness of the debilitating effects of Long CO- VID, he volunteers with Pause to Thrive, an organization MMC has partnered with for more than two years on the wellness re- treats offered free to those in the community coping with long-term effects of COVID-19. Reid serves as a mentor to assist Pause to Thrive’s goal of providing individuals an opportunity to personally take charge of their health and move forward after experiencing physical and mental health challenges from illness and disease, a role he unofficially holds at MMC as well.
“I give pep talks to encourage other patients,” he says. “Everyone needs positive reinforcement, and we can all use help and encouragement, which is something I get every day at Monmouth Medical Center.”
Did you know?
Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for men and women, taking the lives of nearly a half million people each year. Twenty-five percent of the U.S. population has one or more types of cardiovascular disease. This includes high blood pressure, which affects 50 million Americans. Approximately 4.6 million Americans have a diagnosis of congestive heart failure, with 400,000 new cases occur- ring annually.
For more information about the Joel Opatut Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Center or to schedule an appointment, call 732.923.7454. For a referral to an MMC cardiologist, call 732.440.7336.