Hilde Joplin – Cardiac Rehab Success Story

A healthy heart

Hilde Joplin, 73, spent most of her youth growing up in a post-World War II Germany in a convent. It was a sanctuary of kindness where she learned an important lesson: Always do your best.

That determination helped her immigrate to the United States, learn the English language, and raise her three sons, sometimes as a single mom working two jobs. It also helped her get the most out of cardiac rehabilitation at Methodist Charlton Medical Center after having open heart surgery last spring.

Hilde Joplin enjoying german dancing

She had noticed health problems on and off: nausea, pain, “turning red from top to toe,” she says. Then on March 28, Joplin collapsed at work. A colleague brought her to Methodist Charlton, where she was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect — an abnormally located blood vessel that had led to a 90 percent blockage in one of her arteries.

“There wasn’t enough blood circulating to the other parts of my body,” Joplin says.John Jay, MD, independently practicing thoracic surgeon on the hospital’s medical staff, performed a single bypass procedure. Three weeks later, Joplin was on the road to recovery in the Methodist Charlton cardiac rehabilitation program.

“That was a really positive thing for me,” Joplin says. “It was so nice to have people around you to connect to and who care about you.”

Building stronger hearts

Mike Crayton, team leader of cardiopulmonary rehabilitation at Methodist Charlton, says his team’s motto is “Make your heart stronger, and you’ll live longer.” Joplin took that motto to heart.

“She was a model patient in both her physical and her psychological outlook,” he says. “We offer individuals with heart problems a path of lifestyle modifications to increase their length and quality of life and reduce their health risks. Hilde took the program seriously and received the maximum benefit.”

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During the first week of rehabilitation, the rehab team made sure that Joplin had no hidden complications from the surgery. Then during weeks two and three, they started helping her strengthen her heart with cardiovascular exercise and strength training. Joplin also attended education sessions offered through the program, where she learned how lifestyle modifications can improve heart health.

Over the 12-week program, she progressed extremely well, achieving her goal of exercising 40 minutes a day and establishing a home exercise program that includes daily walks with her two dogs.

“As she progressed, she wanted to do more and more and wanted to be more challenged,” says Crayton, who recalls Joplin declaring, “I am determined to get better.”

In the exercise habit

Joplin’s cardiac rehab ended months ago, but she’s still working on her heart health through the Methodist Charlton Outpatient Fitness Program, available to all community members.

“Everyone at Methodist Charlton is so positive,” Joplin says. “Rehab has made me stronger, and I have so much more energy.”

From the winter 2012 edition of Shine magazine.