FORTY STRONG — For Pat Burke, virtual cardiac rehabilitation has become the right choice at the right time.
“It got me to a level of fitness that was hard to maintain during the pandemic,” he said. “All of this happened at a time when you couldn’t go to the gym,” Burke, 74, said.
The Forty Fort resident, who has a history of cardiovascular disease, is a patient of Dr. Bryan Martin, a Geisinger cardiologist, who was treating him for an arrhythmia.
Although his heart conditions are stable, Burke asked Martin if there were any preventative or proactive measures he could take for his heart. Martin referred him to Geisinger’s virtual cardiac rehab program, which is provided by Geisinger’s partner, Recora.
“I can’t even tell you how helpful it was,” said Burke, who participated in 36 one-on-one physical therapy sessions in the comfort of her own home, with instructor-provided guidance and monitoring through a computer tablet.
Burke made notable progress in his ability to exercise and benefited from working with a health coach throughout the program.
Burke, who owned and operated a sporting goods business in Wilkes-Barre, had been active and healthy for much of his life.
“When I was younger I swam. I did triathlons. I went to the gym and lifted weights,” he said.
“In 2010, doctors detected a noise in my heart. It turned out to be a faulty aortic valve,” recalls Burke.
The aortic valve was replaced in 2010 and he underwent stent surgery in 2015.
“I was at a point where I was trying to make sure I was staying healthy, and we were looking for a cardiologist,” Burke said.
One of the nurses at Burke’s family doctor’s office in Back Mountain was a patient of Martin’s and referred Burke to him.
“He came highly recommended and was a great recommendation for me. He did a good job for me,” Burke said.
Burke was diagnosed with atrial flutter, and Martin adjusted his medications throughout treatment to not only manage his arrhythmia, but also to keep him from feeling fatigued.
And in response to their discussion of what additional steps Burke might take, Martin referred him to the program through Recora.
How it works
Burke said the program sent her a tablet and a blood pressure monitor and a wrist pulse, and then they scheduled the visits.
“Three times a week, I logged on at 9:30 in the morning. It would be one-on-one. »
They would monitor his blood pressure, then do a number of exercises, monitor the blood pressure again, do a recovery period, then take the blood pressure again.
“They kept very good records of my improvement – and I improved,” he said. “My blood pressure and heart rate stayed stable and I think that was a big part of it.”
Burke has an office in the basement where he has equipment and weights, which he uses for workouts. He said Recora also sends elastic bands for those who don’t have their own equipment.
“It’s well thought out. It’s not just about lifting weights. These are cardiovascular strengthening exercises. It’s difficult,” he said.
When Burke completed the Phase I program, they asked if he was interested in continuing with group classes.
“I was. I’m hesitant to go to a gym to try and get into a group class, if there’s even one,” he said.
“The instructor is very good and it’s hands-on,” Burke said of the Geisinger/Recora virtual program.