Cardiac Rehab Becomes Lifelong Benefit for Lincoln Man

Three days a week, from 6 – 7 a.m., you’ll find Keith Snyder working out at the rehabilitation center at Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital (ALMH).

He is happy to be there after a series of unexpected health issues last year proved life-threatening. The 59-year-old Lincoln resident underwent successful knee surgery for a torn meniscus after slipping on the ice in February 2018, but then developed pneumonia, which led to an emergency department visit at ALMH.

A CT scan identified a large saddle pulmonary embolism, and Keith was transferred immediately to Memorial Medical Center (MMC). There, he underwent an ultrasound-assisted Ekos catheter-directed thrombolysis, which dissolved the blood clots. His cardiologist, Christian Zellner, MD, with Springfield Clinic, told Keith his heart had been strained by the embolism but not damaged.

Dr. Zellner, who now practices in Florida, recommended that Keith start cardiac rehab at ALMH, and last April, Keith started the program, which can run 12 or 36 weeks. For Keith, cardiac rehab has become a regular part of his routine.

“At first, I couldn’t do much,” Keith recalled. “I just didn’t have the stamina.”

Mark Craig, an exercise therapist with ALMH, walked Keith through how to use the exercise machines and gave him targets to work towards. He walked around, checking in regularly, and asking: “How hard is that?”

Eventually Keith moved up into a high-intensity workout, spending a couple of minutes on each machine at a high rate. In phase 2, he received regular education on dietary information, controlled sugar intake and exercise in addition to his workouts. In phase 3, the cardiac rehab team, including Penny McIntosh, RN, and Paula Snodgrass, RN, continue to monitor heart rate and pulse oxygen readings for each machine used at each visit.

Keith turns 60 this year. He and his wife Beth dote on their one-year-old grandson who lives out of state. He enjoys walking outdoors every day and looks forward to an upcoming fishing trip to Minnesota. He has no plans to “retire” from his cardiac rehab.

“The early morning crowd is a fun group to start your day with,” Keith said. “Everyone is so welcoming. You quickly find out there are people there who are having a harder time than you. But there are also people who have been through what you are going through and are doing great. It’s fun to hear their stories. The two long-term cardiac rehabbers have logged well over 1,000 visits to cardiac rehab. I’m on 82!”

For more information about ALMH’s cardiac or pulmonary rehabilitation program, call 217-732-2161 or visit the website here.