Cardiac Rehab Patients Pump It Up To Help Hearts

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

As Ronald Vaughn worked through the maintenance phase of cardiac rehabilitation following a heart attack, he jumped at the chance to add rigorous resistance training.

"Some programs rehab you to where you were (before the heart attack)," says Vaughn, 60, of Southfield. "I wanted to do something more."

The "something more" for this self-described workout fanatic turned out to be the advanced training program in Beaumont Hospitals' Cardiac Rehabilitation gym. The novel program employs medium-to-high level resistance training - with free weights, exercise bands, medicine and stability balls, body bars and weight machines - to help participants increase muscle strength, endurance and heart function.

As his muscles get stronger, Vaughn can do the same amount of exercise - or tidy the yard or pick up a sack of groceries - while giving his heart a break.


"You won't see this in any other cardiac rehab program," says exercise physiologist Tom Spring, M.S., who designed the ATP to complement the standard aerobic-conditioning portion of cardiac rehabilitation.

"The two work hand-in-hand," he says.

Spring is collecting data that show the ATP patients' hearts work less, as measured by heart rate and blood pressure, on a standardized lifting test.

For $50 a month, medically eligible participants get an individually tailored workout with access to the Cardiac Rehab gym two or three times a week under the guidance of an exercise physiologist. The presence of medical professionals is "extremely reassuring," says Vaughn.

The program is getting noticed in medical circles. Spring has received calls from other cardiac rehabilitation centers asking how they can start an ATP of their own, and the American Association of Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation gave Beaumont's program its Innovation Award in 2007.