Published on September 11, 2018
Jodie Donati, a lifelong resident of the St. James/Rosati area, has lived the vast majority of her life without any heart or lung problems. With the exception of an incident when she experienced shortness of breath early last year, Donati, now 88 years old, has led a healthy life.
However, that changed in June of 2017, when she started having symptoms of what she thought was simply indigestion. When her left arm began hurting, Donati’s daughter rushed her to the Phelps Health Emergency Department.
It turns out Donati was diagnosed with coronary artery disease (CAD), which occurs when plaque builds up in the heart’s arteries. When this happens, the plaque narrows the arteries and reduces blood flow to the heart muscle.
“I had three arteries that were blocked, but I didn’t feel anything until the fourth was blocked,” Donati recalled.
Phelps Health Cardiologist Timothy Martin, MD, cared for Donati during her hospital stay. She received her preliminary care at Phelps Health, but surgery to remove the plaque in her arteries took place in Springfield. To help clear the blockage, Donati had a small expandable tube known as a stent placed into the blocked arteries.
After her surgery, in the fall of 2017, Donati began rehabilitation with Phelps Health's Cardiac and Pulmonary (Cardiopulmonary) Rehabilitation program. Through this service, patients who have had heart or lung problems receive a combination of supervised exercise and education.
“I would definitely recommend this to other people who have had heart or lung problems." - Jodie Donati
An individualized plan is created for each patient to help recondition his or her heart and lungs, regain strength, prevent the condition from worsening, reduce the risk of future heart or lung issues and improve the patient’s quality of life.
Located on the first floor of the Phelps Health Medical Office Building, the Phelps Health Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation gymnasium offers exercise equipment for patients to improve their heart and lung capacity.
Donati tries to exercise at Phelps Health about twice a week, usually about 15 minutes on one of the gym’s treadmills. She also performs arm exercises and sometimes uses the stationary bicycle to help build up her strength.
“This is exercise I wouldn’t do at home,” Donati said. “This is the best thing I’ve done for myself.”
After her surgery, there was a time when Donati was walking with a cane, but she no longer has to use one.
Phelps Health's Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation care team consists of highly trained and skilled professionals who work with patients to monitor their exercise. “They caution you not to do too much for too long and watch to make sure you don’t overdo it,” Donati said.
Donati said she enjoys working with Phelps Health respiratory therapist Helen Thomure as well as Becky White and Melanie Stulce, both RNs with the Phelps Health Cardiac Rehabilitation unit.
Another aspect that Donati enjoys is the social atmosphere of the gym. “You get to meet people and talk to them while you’re exercising,” she said.
In addition to exercise, Donati has learned how to keep her heart and lungs healthy. “We had a dietitian come in and we got to ask questions, which was nice,” she said.
In addition to nutritional counseling, Phelps Health's Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation program also offers tips for stress management, smoking cessation and other lifestyle changes designed to prevent or reverse the development of cardiac and pulmonary diseases.
“I would definitely recommend this to other people who have had heart or lung problems,” Donati said.
Patients with certain heart and lung issues, such as those who have suffered heart attacks or have congestive heart failure, persistent asthma or Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), can qualify for the services provided by Phelps Health's Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation program. Most private insurance companies provide coverage for these rehabilitation services, too.