Cardiac Rehab & heart failure

You will probably be encouraged to participate in cardiac rehabilitation.

You will meet members of the health care team that will include the nurse specialists, dietician, physiotherapist and pharmicist.

During this period of time you will be continually assessed regarding your physical and emotional health.

Importantly you will meet others in a similar situation as yourself and realise that you are not alone.

Part of rehabilitation will include advice regarding lifestyle changes including excercises.

For those who have an interest in swimming it is wise to discuss this form of exercise with health care professionals as this may pose particular problems with heart failure patients. Here, a link via the BHF (British Heart Foundation)


Sarah’s Story

Please find the following story sent to me by Sarah…..

I had a cardiac arrest on 10th February and was successfully resuscitated by my husband (my hero).

I had an echocardiogram and was told that the pumping action of my heart was severely impaired.

I was totally shocked.

I was admitted to Llandough Hospital and was to be transferred to U.H.W as soon as a bed became available. Two weeks later I was transferred there at 2am. Once in The Heath Hospital (U.H.W) I had a barrage of tests to find out what was wrong with me and what needed to be done to correct it. The tests were thorough.

It was the waiting that was hard.

I hadn’t realised how much patience I had until then.

During my time in hospital I was commenced on medication and I was attached to a heart monitor which meant I had very limited movement, basically, I was able to move around my bed and to the toilet but was not allowed to shower.

The worst bit during my stay was the clexane injections into my stomach. I hate needles and so this was a nightmare each evening.

My emotions were all over the place whilst I was in hospital. I’m normally very fit and active with a very busy job and I could not really get my head around what had happened to me. I felt a fraud!

My husband assured me that I was not a fraud, and  I’ll never forget the look on his face that night when I came around to know that I’m not a fraud.

One of the tests involved a repeat echocardiogram (4th week) and they found that the pumping action of my heart had improved and was almost back to normal. This was attributed to the rest that I had had and the fact that I was normally fit and did regular running. I was really chuffed about that, however I did have to continue with the medication and the decision was made to fit me with an ICD.

This is my insurance device.

My husband was really thankful for this too.

There was a suggestion that I had cardiomyopathy but this was never confirmed.

Over the following 6 months I slowly ‘paced’ myself back to full fitness by attending cardiac rehab classes which were great because the team encouraged us to work within heart rate zones. I invested in a very posh garmin heart rate monitor which has been very helpful. At first I had the one with the strap around the chest but this interfered with the device much to my concern as I had been told that it was OK to use .

I attended the next stage of exercise referral at the local council run gym and have almost finished the 16 week programme. This has really helped me strengthen my  muscles especially my arms as we are restricted with arm movement for first 6 weeks after the device is fitted.

During the past 7 months I have really been positive and motivated to get some normality back to my life. I couldn’t continue with my previous job and have had to step down in my role to one with less responsibility, and that’s fine, I’m glad to still be here and be able to work! There have been times, however, when I have felt totally wiped out, especially when running or trying to lead the life I used to lead.

There have been times when I have heard about other people who have died of ‘sudden cardiac arrest’. I have listened to the stories from relatives and found this very emotional and hard to listen to.

I guess I may not have really believed there was anything truly wrong with me until I had another ‘funny turn’ 3 weeks ago in the supermarket. I was at the checkout when I felt the same sensation of my heart slowing down as I did on the night of my cardiac arrest. I felt that I was going to black out and had to sit down before I fell down. It really frightened me and I was scared to drive home. I was really concerned because I thought the pacemaker would have started to pace to prevent this happening. I was concerned that the device was not working. When I got home (my husband to the rescue again) contacted the pacemaker clinic, they arranged for me to go in and have the device checked over. They reassured me that the device was working. They told me that my heart had a fast rhythm (VT)  at the time of my ‘funny turn’ and it had corrected itself. The event had lasted less than 10 seconds, if it had lasted longer the device would have started pacing. I was worried that it would happen again especially if I was driving.

I was told that it was better to black out and receive a shock rather than be conscious. This contradiction worried me as people who had received a shock had told me it wasn’t that bad.

The ‘funny turn’ started me thinking again about the journey we had been through. I had my 6 month check the following week. I needed to know if I did have cardiomyopathy, not because of the label but because I needed to understand what it was I’m dealing with and to stop pretending that there was nothing wrong with me.

At my follow up appointment the doctor confirmed that I do have cardiomyopathy. The repeat echo also showed a reduction in pumping rate although nowhere near as bad as when I collapsed.

I wanted to talk to the doctor about my ‘funny turn’ but she wasn’t aware of it but checked my notes and confirmed what I had been told. She also increased my medication after reading a note left by the consultant.

I felt that she really didn’t listen to what I was trying to tell her and I found this very frustrating.

I hope the medication change will prevent another turn.

She advised me to listen to what my body is trying to tell me and this I find hard.

Many thanks  for sharing your story with us.

Cardiac Rehabilitation

Guest Speaker:

Due to illness Anna from St Judes had rang Sandra that morning to apologise for not attending the meeting.

Cheryl Palfrey (Cardiac Rehabilitation Nurse) stepped in to talk to the group about Rehabilitation.

Cheryl is based and works out of County Hospital in Pontypool.  She has been a Cardiac Rehabilitation nurse for 5 years.

She reported that there has been an increase in ICD implants for secondary and primary prevention.

The Rehabilitation programme covers issues such as anxiety, stress, exercise and suggests different coping methods.  Currently she supports Phase 3 and Phase 4.  Phase 4 continues out in the community.

The following questions were asked by members:

Q. I feel confident to push myself a little harder than what I am expected to do at the Cardiac Rehabilitation Class – why can’t I be allowed to work harder?

A. The Cardiac Nurse has been given a specific details of what has caused the different Cardiac problems.  Therefore the Nurse needs to work to a specific level.  The patient and teacher need to work together.

Q. Can family members attend the Classes?

A. The family members cannot take part in the class, but are very welcome to come along and watch.  The reason for this is that family members medical conditions are not known, and because of safety need to watch and not take part.

Q. The cost of the classes are increasing, and some areas are finding that private or local authority run gyms are taking over classes – this is affecting some of the sizes of groups – who should be bearing the cost of these classes?

A. Discussion

Q. How do members get onto the programme?

A. They need to be referred by the Cardiac Nurse, if members feel they need to attend this class please contact your Cardiac Nurse.

Between 130 ICD’s were fitted in University of Wales Hospital (UHW).  2 ICD’s have been fitted in Royal Glamorgan.  It has been reported that a Baby in Bristol has also been fitted with an ICD.

Home Monitoring is increasing.  Mike had his yearly check at UHW (Feb 2013) and wont need to attend hospital until Feb 2014 (if all remains well).

Mike informed the meeting that if members are on home monitoring there is no need to take monitor away on holidays with you. (Normal 2 weeks etc.,)

Welcome / Information pack

Finally the welcome / information pack  which has been designed by the group is now complete.

This pack will be offered via ICD nurses, cardiac wards and clinics to those individuals who will be receiving an ICD and contains amongst other things useful email addresses, links and phone numbers.

To view item more clearly please double click and item will enlarge.



Guidelines following ICD insertion


About cardiac rehab classes


About the group


Remember…. the information obtained here is relevant to those in the Gwent / Glamorgan area. If in doubt about any information or referrals please speak with your own medical / nurse team.

We thank Mike, Sandra and Deb as well as the cardiac nurses who assisted in team to complete this task.


Any other business (Dec 2012)

Sandra informed the group that the Conference Centre in Birmingham had mentioned that some areas have a support group for partners.  The partners meeting is held on the same day but in a seperate room. The Gwent Defibbers were keen to look at doing something similar.

It was identified that the majority of attendees at cardiac rehab classes were men!

Panic attacks – members spoke about their anxieties and panic attacks that they were experiencing. Sandra would look at getting someone along to speak to the group on this topic to give some ideas about how to cope in a situation.