March 08, 2016
Meagan Pierluissi, Communications Specialist
Angela Flink, 47 years old from Spokane, thought her episodes of rapid heartbeat and feeling a little weaker was simply a reaction to a decongestant she had taken. Without a family history of heart disease, she had no indication she was having a heart attack.
"I kind of ignored it for a few weeks," Angela says of her symptoms. "I have a previous heart condition, so it wasn't all that unusual to feel that way. But these symptoms felt stronger and more intense. I felt so lousy I think I might have lain down on couch and not gotten up."
"My husband took me to Providence Urgent Care Clinic in north Spokane and that's where the chest pressure started," she says.
Medical professionals there made the call to transport Angela to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center by ambulance where a stent was immediately put in to save Angela's life. "I was at Sacred Heart for two days, and from urgent care to the day I went home, I felt like I had excellent care."
After her stay in the hospital, Angela entered the Outpatient Cardiac Rehabilitation program at St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute . Angela says her initial visit to St. Luke's was daunting, considering she had just suffered a heart attack and would have to figure out changes in her lifestyle to remain healthy. She says the therapists at St. Luke helped her do just that.
"I was nervous about starting exercise; you don't want to do too much or too little," she says. "It starts so gently that it didn't feel like hard work. Do sustained exercised but do it at a moderate pace, and that's what's good for your heart. Each week, therapists come around and discuss your goals for the next week-increasing your exercises or maintaining your pace-along with nutritional education and information about how the heart functions."
"It was fabulous from beginning to end," Angela says about her overall experience. "It felt like a support group with everyone there who had been through the same thing or something similar, and now we're all recovering together."
"Towards the end of my 36 visits, I felt like I had a lot more stamina," Angela says. "I feel very good now, and my challenge is to keep it up with the exercises on my own. I want to keep my heart healthy."
Angela says she encourages others to listen to their bodies when something doesn't feel quite right-and if a cardiac event should occur, find out if a cardiac rehabilitation program like St. Luke's is possible.
"We always say 'I'm ok' and never think it can happen. I think 'I'm a mom; I've got a kid; I can take it'," Angela says about missing the signs of heart disease. "And if it happens and you need help, take it. It helps you feel better and get back on the road to being healthy again."
To learn more about the outpatient services like Cardiac Rehabilitation available St. Luke's, please visit: www.st-lukes.org .