Healthcare provider observing patient walking on treadmill

Patients who have suffered from a cardiac event, procedure, or disease may find themselves in need of guidance for leading a lifestyle that protects their health consistently and long-term. Loma Linda University International Heart Institute’s Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation program, designed to motivate patients to shape and maintain healthy lives, is once more accepting patients at full capacity after having limiting capacity due to COVID-19 precautions.

Our program equips patients with the tools to lead a heart healthy lifestyle, feel better and live longer, and reduce the risk of another cardiac event.Dr. Vinoy Prasad

The program consists of individualized, customized exercises and education plans for patients with heart disease such as congestive heart failure, or recovering from a heart attack or a heart procedure. A care team including an exercise physiologist, registered nurse, dietitian, and respiratory therapist work with each patient to instill habits and skills they can apply long after they depart from the program.

“For patients who have been hospitalized for a cardiac event like a heart attack or a stent procedure, or who have undergone major cardiac surgery, recovery does not end in the hospital,” says Vinoy Prasad, MD, FACC, FSCAI, medical director of the Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation program. “Our program equips patients with the tools to lead a heart healthy lifestyle, feel better and live longer, and reduce the risk of another cardiac event.”

Prasad says that the well-established, 20-year-old Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation program honed its services to produce the best long-term results for patients. Patients work with the cardiac rehab care team to tailor heart-healthy exercise plans, understand their condition's risk factors and disease progression, build good habits around nutrition, and strengthen skills to manage everyday stress effectively.

The Loma Linda hospital is not just a place where you go to get taken care of and discharged to go on with your life, and programs like these address patients’ long-term well-being.Roman Finale

The history of cardiac rehabilitation’s crucial role in healing dates back to over 50 years ago, once research and medical advances confirmed patients should indeed exercise after a cardiac event  to promote healing and prevent further cardiovascular illness. Prasad says evidence proves engaging in a cardiac rehabilitation program after experiencing a particular cardiac condition or hospitalization prolongs patients’ lives, improves the quality of life, and decreases future hospitalizations.

70-year-old Roman Finale, one of the many patients to complete the Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation program, testifies to this. After having experienced a heart attack followed by the implantation of two stents in his arteries, the Yucaipa resident entered the program as part of his recovery — a life-changing decision, he said.

“It’s one thing for a program to inform people why they need to make certain changes, but it’s another thing to present in a manner that is so well supported that when patients come out, they're convinced that this is not only important but necessary," he said. "I came out of the program committed to a healthier lifestyle, and it’s been an exciting new journey.”

Finale said he most enjoyed the cooking classes, coming away with a newfound appreciation for heart-healthy recipes like vegetarian lasagna and vegetarian burgers that he has since replicated at home to enjoy with his wife and neighbors.

He said he was also impressed with the education he received about stress management that led him to gain a deeper understanding of how stress affects the body and mind, as well as why it bears negative consequences on health. Finally, he worked with an exercise physiologist to monitor his heart rate during exercise. As a result, he learned to push himself for longer and harder than usual while reaping even more significant benefits.

“The Loma Linda hospital is not just a place where you go to get taken care of and discharged to go on with your life, and programs like these address patients’ long-term well-being.”

An avid boater, family man, foodie, and world traveler, Finale says he is thankful to return to his routine and activities. He retired from a career in the California Highway Patrol, and says the spirit of service never left him. Today, he actively mentors young adults as a volunteer officer in the U.S. Navy Sea Cadet Program.

"He looks great," says Prasad about Finale. "We hope that like Mr. Finale, future patients who come through our program see not only  the short-term impact of surviving a cardiac event or procedure, but also make this lifelong commitment to improving their health."

Recognizing the Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation program presents a great benefit to cardiac patients, Prasad says he aspires to eventually expand the program to accept more patients and become even more of an indispensable resource to the community.

To learn more about the Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation program and visit https://lluh.org/heart-vascular/our-services/cardiopulmonary-rehabilitation or call 800-468-5432.

Meet Our Providers

Vinoy Prasad

Medical Director of the Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation program

Specialties: Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Disease, Interventional Cardiology

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