HONESDALE— Since managing the winter's wayward snowfall can be taxing on one's ticker, February is a good time to consider proper cardiovascular care.

In line with the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR)'s mission to mend a manner of broken heart, the Wayne County Commissioners proclaimed the week of February 11 through 17 as National Cardiac Rehabilitation Week in Wayne County.

According to data listed in the commissioners' proclamation, heart disease is “... the leading cause of death in our nation and Wayne County ranks sixth in the state in the number of deaths from coronary heart disease.”

Present to receive the proclamation last Thursday, February 8, and elaborate on rehabilitative efforts in the county were Nadine Greco, Wayne Memorial Hospital (WMH) Cardiac Rehabilitation Coordinator and two recent program attendees, Kathy Schloesser and Ed Ritzler.

Schloesser had started the program a few weeks prior after a cardiac surgery she described as “a long time coming.”

“When I got to it, I probably would have had, six months to live … if I didn't have my procedure when I did,” said Schloesser.

Having recently started the program, and only being two months recovered from surgery, Schloesser noted she felt most frustrated by the low energy levels resulting from the operation.

“I'm a recovering workaholic,” she joked.

Greco noted, “That's the thing. I think most people get frustrated, especially if they're workaholics or just … can't sit still.”

The cardiac rehab coordinator continued, explaining some don't realize the recovery process can take several months to see results.

“I look at it as, 'let's not look at it as a bad thing,' let's look at it as, 'what could come out of this?,' in terms of 'maybe I don't need to work as much.'”

Ritzler stated he's been in the cardiac rehabilitation program since April, the result of a heart attack suffered from shoveling snow last March.

He explained his doctor recommended Greco and the WMH program to help strengthen his heart to oxygenate his blood.

The cardiac rehabilitation program “...changed my life,” said Ritzler. “I feel better, not as good as I did before, but it's better, it's much better.”

Greco noted a large part of the success in the program comes from the individuals who take it upon themselves to show up and put in the work.

“You took the initiative to do this. And a lot of people just don't take advantage of the program and I wish they would because they would feel a lot better...,” said Greco.

She noted without a conscious change in lifestyle, victims of heart attacks set themselves up for future incidents.

There is an increasing number of patients in need of cardiac rehabilitation in their 40s and 50s, said Greco.

Noting that the new blood pressure metric falls at 130/80, Greco stated the goal of the program, and really for healthy living in general is: “Everybody should at least get 150 minutes a week of exercise. That's 30 minutes, five days per week.”

She said losing weight and a change in lifestyle can help lower blood pressure levels to that new metric and forestall the use of medications to keep it under control.

Finding a friend with which to exercise is a helpful way to find encouragement to see it through, stated Greco.

“But make sure if you have any problems always check with your doctor...If you wanna go to the gym ... get checked out by the doctor first.”

Sleep is also a helpful way to stay healthy, she said.