Alpharetta resident, Bill Hutchens, is constantly solving problems in his career as an IT consultant. However, not too long ago, he realized that he had stumbled onto something that he couldn’t solve.
Frequent angina pains similar to extreme heartburn.
But with the help of Emory Saint Joseph’s Cardiac Rehabilitation program, the 51-year-old is back on the soccer field, pursuing the hobby that he loves so much. “There’s no doubt in my mind that soccer has been a life-changing event for me. If I hadn’t been such an active player the past ten years, I wouldn’t have noticed the physical changes, and I would have collapsed in my backyard. Somebody was watching out for me for sure,” he says.
Because Hutchens has a family history of heart problems, he has always been vigilant about annual physicals and stress tests. His father had his first open heart surgery at the age of 42, his mother passed away three years ago during a procedure, and Hutchens’ grandfather died at 52 after a massive heart attack.
“I knew I was at risk, but nothing showed up until a couple of years ago when I noticed my stamina on the soccer field was decreasing. I used to be able to spend 20 minutes on the field, and then I became so tired, it went down to 10 minutes and then three minutes.”
“I was talking to my sister (the manager of a cardiac rehab in California), and she told me to go to my cardiologist immediately,” Hutchens adds.
After undergoing a cardiac cath procedure, doctors discovered that Hutchens had three blockages and they promptly inserted stents.
He discovered that not only the physical but the psychological experience after the procedure was extremely difficult. “I went through a couple of weeks with aches and pains before starting cardiac rehab, and I began asking “Is this what my Mom and Dad have experienced?” Am I going to die?’”
When Hutchens was medically able to begin rehab, the staff created an individualized program for him, based on his health and exercise history.
“At first, rehab was really tough and it was an eye-opener. That’s when I realized how sick I had been, and with the help of the entire staff in cardiac rehab, I’ve come a long way,” he says.
“The staff taught me that you can’t overdo it,” he adds about wearing a monitor to track his progress, to keep within the targeted heart rate range. His rehab plan consists of one-and-a-half hour sessions three days per week, and Hutchens now knows the importance of monitoring his pulse and target heart rate.
“My blood pressure was always borderline high; now it is great, better than it has been my entire adult life and my cholesterol levels have dropped. I feel so much better now that I’ve completed cardiac rehab.
“In reality, I’m not a young kid anymore, but I have returned to everyday activities with a renewed education on “heart healthy” activities and living style. Thank you, Emory Saint Joseph’s Cardiac Rehabilitation team for the excellent support and care!”
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