In 2005, Jeff Kelm of Clarksville was surprised to learn he had type 2 diabetes. The lab work he had as a part of his physical showed his blood sugar was very high.
“No one in my family had diabetes so it came as a big surprise to me,” Jeff said. “I met with my doctor and took steps to start taking care of the disease.”
About a year after he learned he had diabetes, Jeff started to have chest pains. He went to the emergency room and was transferred to Allen Hospital. While at Allen, he had five stents placed in the blood vessels around his heart to open them up.
The American Heart Association reports that adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to die from heart disease than adults without diabetes. Diabetes is treatable, but even when blood sugar levels are under control it greatly raises the risk of heart disease and stroke.
After Jeff left the hospital, he started cardiac rehab at Waverly Health Center. Cardiac rehab can help people with heart problems improve their quality of life through exercise and education. Patients are closely monitored by the nurses as they do exercises to help make their hearts stronger.
Unfortunately for Jeff, he kept on having heart problems over the next twelve years. Each time he had more stents placed, he went through cardiac rehab to help him heal. In April 2017, he started his fourth round of rehab after having three more stents placed, bringing his total to ten.
“The nurses noticed I wasn’t recovering as quickly as I should have been. I was more tired and my heart rate took too long to return to normal,” Jeff explained. “I went back to my heart doctor for an angiogram to look for blockages. At the end of the test, the doctor spoke with me and Lisa my wife about the need for a double heart bypass.”
After Jeff’s successful open heart surgery, he returned once again to WHC’s cardiac rehab program. “The nurses reassured me and helped me feel like I could have a strong recovery and live with my heart disease and diabetes,” Jeff commented. “They also helped me see how vital it is to check my blood sugar to keep my diabetes in check.
“I feel very lucky to be here and appreciate the care and concern of the nurses. They helped me learn what type of exercises I could do at home and also offered healthy eating ideas. I liked getting to know the other patients who were going to rehab. They were in the same boat as me, so I didn’t feel so alone.”
Jeff offers this advice, “Don’t wait if you think something might be wrong with your heart. Don’t be in denial; it’s better to find out so it can be fixed.”