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Thu, Feb 16, 2017 at 12:00 AM

How Cardiac Rehab Changed One Man's Life

John Sherrick knows why he has had two heart attacks, two bypasses and open heart surgery.

He smoked for 50 years, didn’t exercise, worked a high-stress military job and ate whatever he wanted.

“I was the poster child for what not to do,” says the 67-year-old who lives near Grant.

Not anymore. Sherrick changed his ways and now is the picture of health. He quit smoking, lost more than 50 pounds and gets plenty of exercise. He had a lot of help from the Cardiac Rehab program at TherapyPlus North after his cardiologist recommended it.

“The people in cardiac rehab understand,” he says. “This has helped me quite a bit. I feel great. I have a lot of energy.”

National Cardiac Rehab week highlights this very successful program for those with heart issues. The Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at both locations of TherapyPlus Fitness is a support program which includes exercise, education and counseling designed to strengthen the heart and lungs and educate patients about the risks of smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, inactivity, excessive weight, stress and heredity. The skilled professionals at TherapyPlus Fitness teach people how to manage these risk factors and how to take control through exercise to be able to return to a full, active and healthy lifestyle.

“Cardiac Rehab is for patients who have some form of heart disease – following a heart attack, stents, valve replacement, transplant – who need help getting back on their feet,” says Cardiologist Dr. Kathleen Evans, who is director of Marshall Medical’s cardiac rehab programs. “We teach them to live a healthier lifestyle and to feel safe and confident exercising.”

It also serves as a support group for patients, connecting them with others who have dealt with the same issues, she says.

“They come out more confident that they are able to live a healthier lifestyle,” says Dr. Evans.

Sherrick is retired from the military, which sent him to Vietnam twice and placed him in a stressful position at Fort Knox in Kentucky. He has a laundry list of health problems – diabetes, COPD, coronary artery disease and peripheral artery disease – but he has taken control of his health and lengthened his life in the process.

“I’ve really pushed my body to the limit and it caught up with me,” he says. “I see myself staying with the gym and doing what I’m doing now.”

That includes walking an average of 16,000 steps a day – more if he gets into a challenge with his Fitbit – and drinking 80 ounces of water a day.

With six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, Sherrick says he needs no more motivation than that to keep going.

“That’s why I do it,” he says with pride.