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Joe Carriere Returns to Active Lifestyle Thanks to Cardiopulmonary Rehab at Cannon Memorial Hospital

Feb. 4, 2015. Good teacher are able to teach life lessons not found in textbooks. Their innate ability to listen, discern and encourage others, even when faced with adversity, is a skill let uniquely their own. This was certainly the case for retired educator Joe Carriere, 63, of Linville.

The Georgia native, who moved to the High Country with his wife, Rebecca, in 1986, taught and coached both middle and high school students for 33 years before retiring from education in 2006. Unfortunately, his carefree retirement years were cut short in the summer of 2014, when his mother passed away at Mission Hospital in Asheville. Ironically, the following day he awoke with chest pain and was raced back to the hospital.

Joe Carriere with Clinical Exercise Physiologist, Best Ann Scott.
Joe Carriere with Clinical Exercise Physiologist, Best Ann Scott.

“They told me that I had a 99 percent blockage in one artery and a 23 percent blockage in another,” said Carriere. “I quickly learned the severity of my situation when I was told that my only option was bypass surgery, so that’s what we did.”

After his successful surgery, he was unable to perform basic motor functions due to his pain level and weakened heart condition. In order to improve his health, his doctors recommended that he participate in a cardiopulmonary rehabilitation prograb.

Carriere, who was still coming to grips with the loss of his mother, was pleased to learn that there was a rehabilitation program conveniently located two miles away from his home in Avery County.

After being discharged from the hospital he enrolled in Appalachian Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program (ACRP) at Cannon Memorial Hospital. The 12-week, 36-session program is designed to utilize exercise, nutrition, and clinical support to help its participants achieve their highest level of functionality while improving their quality of life.

During his first session Carriere met Clinical Exercise Physiologist, Beth Ann Scott, CES. Initially, she had him participate in a Metabolic Exercise Study to determine his baseline fitness capability and anaerobic threshold. Scott and her team, consisting of two respiratory therapists, a registered nurse and three graduate assistants training to become exercise physiologists at Appalachian State University, used the results to design a rehabilitation program unique for Carriere.

The team knew, based on his condition, that Carriere would be unable to safely exercise much of his upper body during rehab. Therefore, they created a specialized lower body program for him, which included use of the treadmill, stationary bike and eventually the NuStep machine. While exercising, the ACRP team closely monitored his vital signs and documented his day-to-day progress.

In addition, the program also incorporates a nutrition component by bringing in a registered dietitian to encourage healthy eating habits for each patient.

“I was very impressed with the professionalism of the staff and the program’s state-of-the-art facility,” said Carriere. “Everyone was encouraging and they helped me stay motivated throughout the entire program.”

It did not take long for Joe to start seeing results. After only a few sessions, he noticed a significant improvement in his ability to exercise longer and feel stronger.

“Joe’s positive attitude, paired with his consistent attendance, paid off tremendously,” said Scott. “At the conclusion of the three month program, we noticed a substantial increase in his anaerobic threshold. This meant that he could now participate in aerobic exercise for longer periods of time without complication.”

Welcome news for Carriere, who fought to keep a positive attitude throughout the entire ordeal. “As I have always taught my students, it is so very important to never give up. Instead, thanks in large part to the ACRP program, I was able to honor my mother’s memory and return to a healthy and active lifestyle.”

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