Healthy Makeover After Heart Attack

At 45, Stephanie seemed in good shape. She ate reasonably and worked out with weights. But after a heart attack struck while she was sitting in traffic, the West Orange resident learned she needed to make some changes.

“I was taking on too much and not standing up for myself,” says Stephanie, who works for a brokerage firm and runs a medical billing company on the side. “Now, I manage my stress and take time for myself.”

When she had her heart attack, doctors found two coronary arteries were completely blocked. They cleared the arteries and placed a stent (metal mesh tube) inside one to help keep it open. Stephanie’s cardiologist recommended Saint Barnabas Medical Center, an RWJBarnabas Health facility, for cardiac rehabilitation.

“They’re wonderful there,” she relates. “They’re so caring, they’ve become like my family.”

At rehabilitation, Stephanie has strengthened her heart through carefully monitored workouts that keep her heart rate up for an extended period of time.

“When I started, I could barely do three minutes at a time,” she recalls. “Now I can do an hour of non-stop cardio.”

The rehabilitation team helped Stephanie in other ways, too.

“I went to a lot of seminars at Saint Barnabas that have really helped,” she says, “including stress management, healthy eating and low-sodium eating.” She also took the hospital’s yoga courses focusing on relaxation and breathing.

Stephanie now enjoys preparing a wider variety of vegetable dishes and healthy, Mediterranean-style fare in her big, cheerful kitchen.

“I feel like I’ve been given a second chance at life and I’m so thankful,” says Stephanie. “I have everything I need.”