Cardiac rehabilitation program encourages heart-healthy exercise

BY Lauren Wanko, Correspondent |

It’s another workout session for 87-year-old Marine Corps veteran Bill Bastedo.

“I feel much better. I feel a little happier and more alert,” he said. “It’s just fabulous.”

Bastedo suffered a second heart attack in May. His cardiologist recommended he start exercising.

“For all of our cardiac patients, anybody who’s had a heart attack, bypass, stent, heart failure or any type of heart surgery, we recommend all of them participate in cardiac rehab. That’s one of the first steps in helping them recover and become functional again,” said Dr. Marcia Liu, cardiologist at CentraState Medical Center.

The New Jersey Department of Health indicates heart disease is the leading cause of death among all New Jersey residents, accounting for more than 18,000 deaths in 2016.

“You can reduce heart disease with regular exercise,” said Liu, “With exercise you promote fitness. With the regular fitness, it improves your blood pressure, it also reduces your heart rate. And all of that in the long term translates to better circulation, cardiac health, keeping your weight healthy, better cholesterol numbers, so it all kind of fits in with a healthy lifestyle. You reduce some of those risk factors that promote heart disease.”

The cardiovascular wellness program at CentraState Medical Center is divided into a number of phases. The first phase is a patient’s recovery time in the hospital. Then they move on to outpatient cardiac rehab that’s medically supervised. Patients then have the option to continue their exercise routine with their Cardiac Wellness Program, and that takes place across the hall in their fitness and wellness center.

“This is a lifestyle change for me and I will continue it until, forever I guess,” said Manalapan resident Essie Cruz.

It’s exactly what Liu wants to hear. She says that’s the goal of the program. Last year, Cruz had her mitral valve repaired, and has since then been exercising in the program for months now.

“At first it was a little difficult, but as you continue doing it you begin to see strengthening. I started getting stronger, feeling better about myself. When I leave here after my one hour workout, I walk out feeling really good about myself so it feels great,” Cruz said.

Liu recommends that her patients exercise for at least 150 minutes a week. She says she sees significant improvement among those enrolled in the program. Her advice to people thinking about working out?

“A lot of people have excuses for not exercising. Whatever your excuse is, there is something that you can do to stay active,” Liu said.