After several weeks of recovery, Vakil was referred to Northwestern’s Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute Cardiac Rehabilitation program, a supervised program of exercise and education for cardiovascular patients. Exercise is done under the direct guidance of a doctor, specialized nurses and exercise physiologists.
“Amar was committed to doing the work and putting the time in to make sure he decreased his risk factors for any future cardiac events,” said Rita Szymanski, BSN, RN, clinical coordinator at Northwestern’s Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute Cardiac Rehabilitation program. “He was on a mission.”
Cardiac rehab is an intervention for individuals who have experienced a heart attack, with research indicating the mortality rate is 34 percent lower for people who go through the program. Participation in the cardiac rehab program gives patients the confidence they need to recover and move forward with their lives.
Vakil was involved with the early outpatient cardiac rehab program, which takes place three days a week for three months. This requires continuous electrocardiogram (EKG) monitoring while exercising with a physician or supervisor present. The outpatient sessions include tailored exercise programs, stress reduction classes and diet assessment.
“Taking a pill may fix things in the short term, but it’s important to look at your overall lifestyle and make significant changes there,” said Vakil. “Northwestern’s Cardiac Rehabilitation program taught me to think in a different way. I want to be here for my family and see my two wonderful children grow up. The incredible team at Northwestern has me on the right path.”
Even though Vakil graduated from the early outpatient cardiac rehab program, he has continued with the maintenance program, exercising three days a week for the past three years. Vakil is working on maintaining his own heart health, but he’s also committed to giving back.
“Amar has taken it upon himself to be there for other patients who are going through this similar journey,” said Szymanski. “He is someone who others can look up to and see that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”
For more information about the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, or to schedule an appointment, please call 312-926-0779 or visit the website or Facebook.