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Appalachian Regional Healthcare Betters Lives with the Appalachian Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program

Jan. 17, 2014. Jerry Markland, 65, has a lot to look forward to in 2014 thanks to the Appalachian Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program (ACRP) in Avery County.

Markland, a West Virginia native and Air Force veteran is thankful to finally be receiving positive health results after fighting the battle of his life. Since being diagnosed with coronary artery disease, Markland has persevered through two heart attacks, two open heart surgeries in which 11 vessels were bypassed, multiple stents and the installation of a pacemaker over the past 11 years. 

“Those were challenging years for me, my wife Phyllis and our three sons,” said Markland. “Everyone wanted to help out but I caught myself pulling away.”

Despite all of his surgical procedures, Markland was disappointed to learn that he was still displaying very limited heart function. His lowest point came in 2009, when he was deemed disabled and unable to continue work. 

In search of nonsurgical alternatives, Markland turned to his trusted physician of 26 years, Dr. David Kimmel of Elk River Medical Associates. 

“I have known Jerry for a long time and could tell how frustrated he was with his long suffering heart condition,” said Dr. Kimmel.

“That’s why, after witnessing his motivation to get better and reviewing his medical history, I suggested that he participate in our Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program.”

In 2010, Marland enrolled in ACRP. A resident of Elk Park, Markland appreciated the convenient location of the program located in the Sloop Medical Office Plaza adjacent to Williams YMCA of Avery County.

ACRP is a collaborative effort between Appalachian Regional Healthcare System and Appalachian State University’s Department of Health, Leisure and Exercise Science. The 36 session medically supervised exercise program is designed to reduce the cardiovascular risk factors of the participant’s medical history by improving their heart function and their exercise threshold. 

1066As a new participant, Markland took part in an orientation session, which included a comprehensive assessment of his needs and goals. After completing the assessment, Markland participated in a pre-metabolic exercise test which includes and elctrocardiogram (EKG) test to determine his baseline aerobic fitness capacity. At which point, an individual exercise plan was created for Markland to follow throughout the course of the program. 

As is customary with each participant, Markland’s EKG, heart rate and oxygen saturation levels were monitored during each of his exercise sessions for safety and measurement purposes. Beyond the exercise component of the program, Markland took advantage of the information sessions and the group support available through ACRP. 

Upon his successful completion of the program, Markland noticed a significant improvement in his heart function, attitude and ability to perform his daily living activities without requiring a break.

“I was blown away at how my health had dramatically improved since starting cardiopulmonary rehab,” said Markland with a grin. 

“After reviewing my progress in my post metabolic and EKG scores, I was eager to sign up for another session.”

As is the protocol with ACRP, Markland was reevaluated and his therapy plan modified to maximize his benefit prior to beginning another round of rehabilitation. 

“It’s like he has gotten his life back,” said Beth Ann Scott CES Clinical Exercise Physiologist and member of teh ACRP team. Scott has worked with an encouraged Markland over the last two years by planning out his exercise program and charting his progress. 

“I still remember my first session,” said Markland with a smile. “I was barely able to walk on the treadmill for 15 minutes. Now, after everything I have been through, I can exercise for more than an hour.”

Markland’s restored function comes as an answer to a long awaited prayer. HIs improved condition has been verified by his doctors, the ACRP team and most  importantly his wife, Phyllis. The couple plan to celebrate Markland’s recover with trips to Italy and Africa later this year. 

“I could not have done it without the help and encouragement of the ACRP team,” said Markland, who is now a three-time graduate of the program. With no plans to reenroll, Markland has already joined Williams YMCA of Avery County and is exercising on his own-a feat few thought would be possible a couple of years ago.

For more information about the Appalachian Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program offered in both Linville and Boone, call 828-737-7069. To learn more about Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, visit www.apprhs.org.