Keith Garrett, now 57, will be the first to tell you that cardiac events don’t always cause you to clutch your chest and double over in pain. When he began experiencing red-flag symptoms in 2017, he initially reasoned them away: Maybe he had pulled a muscle doing yardwork, or maybe he was anxious about being back in the classroom teaching a new group of students. As the day went on, Keith noticed the pressure in the center of his chest was accompanied by shortness of breath. When he was unable to speak more than a few sentences before needing to rest, he grew concerned.
“I went to urgent care first and they didn’t waste any time sending me to the Emergency Department,” Keith said. “If it was something with my heart, they knew I needed to be at Fairfield Medical Center.”
Keith was immediately examined and admitted for observation, where FMC’s staff checked on him throughout the night to make sure he was comfortable – both physically and mentally. By morning, the hospital’s cardiology group determined that Keith’s ongoing symptoms warranted a trip to the Cath Lab. During the procedure, the team uncovered a narrowing of the blood vessels in Keith’s heart and restored blood flow by inserting a stent.
“It didn’t hit me that I’d had a heart event until later that evening,” Keith remembered. “A nurse came in to check my vitals and went above and beyond to ease my mind. I was so thankful to have such great care.”
Keith’s confidence continued to grow with the help of FMC’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Team. Throughout his recovery, the group educated Keith on the causes of his condition and helped him regain strength and endurance through a supervised exercise program. Most importantly, they helped him realize that he could still live a full and healthy life.
“The program was excellent,” Keith said. “The cardiac rehab staff pushed me to reach my goals, and it was comforting to know that I had people there to coach me through such a difficult time. They worked as a team through the entire process.”
FMC’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program focuses on more than the physical aspect of recovery. Throughout the 12-week program, patients are also armed with education to help them make healthier decisions and gain understanding about their condition and risk for heart disease.
“Because of the confidence I built during cardiac rehabilitation, I feel like I’m a better advocate for myself and others,” Keith said. “My wife and I love to travel and hike, and because of Fairfield Medical Center, I’m able to continue doing those things without fear.”