N.C.’s first cardiac rehab program celebrates 25 years of healing hearts

Cardiac rehab program logoThe cardiac rehabilitation program at Wake Forest University, the first such program in North Carolina and one of the first in the nation, will celebrate its 25th anniversary in May.

To help mark the anniversary, Dr. Barry Franklin, exercise physiologist and president of the American College of Sports Medicine will present the lecture, “The ABCDEs of Cardiac Rehabilitation,” on May 2 at 7:30 p.m. in Wake Forest’s Brendle Recital Hall. Franklin’s lecture is free and open to the public.

Dr. Henry S. Miller Jr., medical director for the cardiac rehabilitation program, will also be recognized for his contributions to the program. The program has helped more than 3,000 people since its beginning and some participants have been in the program for the entire 25 years.

“We planned this special celebration of the program’s anniversary not only to celebrate the history of the program and those who helped start it, but also celebrate our past and present patients who have achieved a higher quality of life – a rebirth, if you will,” said Peter Brubaker, cardiac rehabilitation program director and associate professor of health and exercise science.

The program began in 1975 when Miller and Paul Ribisl, former program director and current chair of Wake Forest’s health and exercise science department, received a grant from the American Heart Association. Miller, a professor of internal medicine at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, has served as medical director of cardiac rehabilitation since the program’s inception.

Miller has spent most of his professional life as a medical educator. He has taught in the areas of internal medicine, cardiology and cardiac rehabilitation. Miller’s research interests include the relationship between exercise and cardiovascular rehabilitation, sports medicine training and rehabilitation issues. Miller is a graduate of Wake Forest and the Wake Forest School of Medicine. He completed his residency in internal medicine at University Hospital in Charlottesville, Va.

The cardiac rehabilitation program serves people who have survived heart attacks, heart surgery or other heart problems. Patients meet during the week for exercise therapy and to discuss wellness issues. To the casual observer, patients of the program act more like good friends getting together to exercise. But, this group of smiling people share a unique bond – all are working hard to strengthen their hearts and extend their lives.

“These people are excited about life,” Brubaker said. “And rehab has been an integral part in their lives and in their road to recovery. It’s rewarding to see so many people come back who are doing so well on their own and to know that we had been able to help with their quality of life.”

Located in Reynolds Gymnasium on Wake Forest’s Reynolda campus, the cardiac rehabilitation program is offered jointly through the medical school and health and exercise science department.

Focused on lifestyle behaviors, the program uses innovative treatments and provides state-of-the-art personalized care to participants. Specific issues addressed include physical activity, nutritional habits, weight management, quality of life, and smoking behavior. Exercise therapy sessions are held on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings throughout the year.

Patients must be referred to the program by their doctor. The minimum duration of rehabilitation is three months, but can be extended to six or 12 months, depending on need and progress. A maintenance program is available for patients who wish to continue for longer than one year.

For more information, call 758-5395.

Categories: Events, Speakers, University Announcement