By Denise Williams | News & Views
Sanjeev Rao’s cardiac journey started with years of heavy smoking, which led to the placement of two stents in his heart in 2007, at age 55. It was a wakeup call for the retired history professor, who immediately dropped the habit “cold turkey.” Between the medical intervention and the lifestyle change, Sanjeev was hopeful that he had nipped his heart troubles in the bud.
He sailed through his annual cardiac checkups, including periodic stress testing, for nearly 15 years. But in late 2021, rising cholesterol levels and breathlessness while walking prompted his cardiologist to order a catheterization – which revealed an urgent new health concern: blocked arteries. Two days later, the husband and father underwent open-heart surgery.
The quadruple bypass was a success, but it was just the first leg of the journey. To aid his recovery, Sanjeev also needed cardiac rehabilitation. He was anxious to get well as soon as possible and, therefore, put up zero resistance when he got the referral. Not even a self-proclaimed lifelong “allergy” to exercise would stop him from conquering his coronary artery disease, he vowed.
A little over a year later, Sanjeev feels like a new man, whose faith has been deepened by his circumstances. He’s drastically modified his eating habits and says he’s healthier now than ever before in his life. He’s even cured himself of that so-called allergy to exercise, and now works out four or five days per week for 45-60 minutes. Sanjeev gives the credit for his transformation to regular evaluations with the cardiologist and “tremendous” support from his wife and daughter. Equally important, he praises the “fabulous” care he received from the cardiac rehabilitation team at Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, New Jersey.
“Cardiac rehab helped me recover more quickly than if I hadn’t done it,” says Sanjeev, who is especially appreciative of how those sessions helped set the foundation for a “fresh start and new life goals.” He also expresses gratitude for the rehab professionals who kept him on track. He likes to say the staff gave him “MORE,” meaning they were MOTIVATED, ORGANIZED, RESPECTFUL and EFFICIENT. He was so impressed by the group, in fact, that he nominated the unit for the Daisy Award, which honors nurses for excellence in service. To his delight, they won!
The combination of quality care, family support and personal determination came together to give Sanjeev a chance to continue living. And thanks to cardiac rehab, he declares, his life is “changed for the better.”