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September 10, 2001

Heartwise creatively attacks disease

By Eric Rangus

The top floor of the 1525 Building on Clifton Road is one of the best places to look over campus. However, its location on Emory’s perimeter makes its residents some of the University’s most overlooked.

“A lot of times,” said Christy Brock, an exercise physiologist with the Heartwise Risk Reduction Program, which is located on the fifth floor of the 1525 Building. “I feel that people on the Emory campus don’t know we’re here.”

Of the roughly 30 patients signed up in the program’s telemetry phase (for people who have experienced some sort of heart incident—bypass surgery, heart attack, angioplasty, and the like) and the more than 200 enrolled Heartwise’s community wellness phase (which can be a follow-up to the telemetry phase or an independent experience altogether), a majority come from off campus.

And that is unfortunate because the wealth of healthy resources offered by the Heartwise Risk Reduction Program is quite impressive.

“We are more than willing to come out and see what employees’ needs are,” said Heartwise Director Kathy Lee Bishop-Lindsay. For instance, Heartwise representatives will be meeting soon with employees of the Law Library to design a walking program similar to a popular one (also organized by Heartwise) employed by the registrar’s office.

As the name implies, Heartwise programming is aimed to reduce people’s risk of heart disease. It has been on campus close to 15 years, Until 1997, Heartwise was known as the “Emory Health Enhance-ment Program.” That was also the year the program moved to its current home from the P.E. Center.

Heartwise serves not only patients who currently suffer from heart disease, but it also aims to identify those who could be candidates for problems down the road (smokers, people who do not exercise, a person with high blood pressure), and try to lead them down a healthier path.

Heartwise attempts to accomplish this task through its prevention program.

The first step of the prevention program involves a stress test, which is administered by Laurence Sperling, director of preventive cardiology at the Emory Clinic, under which Heartwise falls.

“From that test, I can design an exercise program for [the patient],” Brock said. That is the next step. The year-long program includes not only specific exercises, but eventual goals and even nutrition information. After a year, if the patient remains a member of the program, he or she would undergo another test and Brock would design an updated program.

Brock is one of what will soon be a staff of three Heart-wise exercise physiologists. The program also employs three permanent part-time nurses and nurse practitioner and a patient service coordinator. While the idea of producing more than 200 individualized exercise programs a year may sound daunting, the workload really wasn’t that overwhelming.

“We get about 5–10 new patients a week; if you divided that up over five days, it’s not too bad,” she said.

Brock is rarely stumped when it comes to designing a program, either. “I can usually find a way for you to exercise,” she said. “[Even] if a person comes in with some kind of a physical limitation, there [often] is some way we can adapt the exercise routine to fit their needs.” Meeting with the patients individually, Brock said, is a crucial part of designing and specialized program.

Heartwise’s programming, in general, is pretty versatile. Exercises in calisthenics (design-ed as a warm-up or cool down to a longer workout), water aerobics, yoga and a volleyball/racquetball hybrid called wallyball—the only team sport offered—are just some of the program’s selections. Personal training is offered as well at no extra cost.

“If you join a program where you are always doing the same thing, you’re going to get bored,” Brock said.

Heartwise’s telemetry phase is a bit more intense. While working out, patients are hooked up to an EKG and their heart rate and blood pressure is constantly monitored. The rehab program also includes a twice-a-week behvior modification program called INTERxVENT CR that incorporates risk reduction, behavior modification and lifestyle management.

Heartwise’s programming is most definitely in-depth, but it is not free. Insurance can cover some costs, but not others, the best thing to do is ask the patient service coordinator. The monthly fee for joining the prevention program is $60 ($55 if joining with a significant other), and other programming may include additional fees.

While working out individually is certainly an option—sharing a floor with the Blomeyer Health Fitness Center helps—Heartwise administrators and exercise physiologists also focus on group training.

“We try to buddy new people up with someone who has had success, or so they can see that they’re not here alone—there are other people here who have risk factors,” Bishop-Lindsay said. “Maybe there’s someone who’s actually had heart surgery like they’ve had, or maybe there’s someone here who just wants to change their lifestyle. The results and the camaraderie we see makes us feel good about our jobs.”

Not every aspect of Heartwise involves gym clothes. An eight-week weight management program is another aspect of Heartwise. Each weekly class session runs about an hour and is designed and facilitated by a licensed dietician. By appointment, Heartwise also offers individual nutrition counseling.

Heartwise’s lecture series is open to everyone. Each month, several lectures on a specific subject (September’s is cholesterol) are presented. The next one, an update on lipids, will take place on Sept. 14 in the 1525 Building’s fifth-floor conference room.

For more information on the Heartwise Risk Reduction Program, call 404-778-2850.


Back to Emory Report September 10, 2001