“I felt the pressure in my chest and had shortness of breath. I called my physician’s office on a weekend and they told me to take an aspirin and call 911, quickly. I don’t remember too much after that, but doctors later told me I had a serious heart attack,” said White.
One of those physicians was Philip Clay Haas, DO, a cardiovascular disease specialist affiliated with Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Hospital. Dr. Haas also serves as assistant professor with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and practices at the Center for Advanced Cardiology at Greater Heights.
“Once Roger was stabilized, I put in a stent to open the artery that caused the heart attack. It was actually the ‘widowmaker’ artery, which gets its name because blockages in that artery can often be deadly,” said Dr. Haas. “Once we dealt with that blockage, we discovered additional blockages. He ended up needing three more stents.”
The heart attack sent White a message.
“The heart attack gave me a wakeup call. I needed to make a change,” he said.
A Prescription for Cardiac Rehabilitation
White enrolled in the cardiac rehabilitation program at Memorial Hermann Greater Heights, where he focused on rebuilding his heart strength and making healthier choices.
“Cardiac rehabilitation is a 12-week program customized toward each person’s specific needs. We focus on exercise, education and lifestyle changes to help people get their heart into the best shape possible and reduce the risk of future cardiac issues,” said Bernice Ware, RN, the clinical manager for cardiac rehabilitation at Memorial Hermann Greater Heights.
Ware says the program is open to anyone who had a heart attack or cardiac arrest within the last year or has ever had heart surgery.
“The faster you start the program, the better the outcomes. We see some patients as soon as a week after surgery. We’re educated on the various heart conditions and heart surgery, and so we know how to tailor each patient’s program to fit their abilities,” said Ware.
For White, the rigorous cardiac rehab inspired him to completely overhaul his lifestyle.
“After finishing cardiac rehabilitation, I also got a membership to my area YMCA to exercise on my own. It takes effort. I see why people don’t do it, but I never realized how important exercise was. I started out at 245 pounds, and now I’m at 206!” said White.
White says he recognizes how lucky he is to be alive.
“When I was in the hospital, the doctors would joke with me that I must have four lives, because I went through three of them! I’m not wasting the last one!”
Learn more about the cardiac rehabilitation programs at Memorial Hermann hospitals throughout Greater Houston. A physician prescription is necessary to participate and most insurance companies cover the program.
Schedule an appointment with one of our affiliated cardiologists to discuss your heart health and if cardiac rehabilitation is right for you.