Community rehabilitation programme gives heart patient a new lease of life

A heart failure patient says she has a new lease of life thanks to a community cardiac rehabilitation programme.

Sarah Glossop has seen huge improvements in her physical and mental health as a result of the exercise-based programme, which is run by the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Community Cardiac Rehabilitation team and takes place at the Graves Health and Sports Centre.

Sarah, 49, of Dore, Sheffield, has cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle which can affect its ability to pump blood around the body and lead to heart failure.

She was diagnosed after going to a late-effects clinic, which she attends as a result of having leukaemia as an 18-year-old. A routine echocardiogram showed a problem, and staff asked if she was suffering from breathlessness. Further tests revealed that her ejection fraction (a measure of how much blood is pumped by the heart with each contraction) was just 23%.

Sarah, who has a 15-year-old daughter and runs a dog walking business, said that the diagnosis affected her confidence so much that she thought she may have to give up her job and meant her husband, who is also self-employed, had to take time off work to support her.

She said: “I had thought that I was just run down after a stressful year, but when I got the diagnosis it really devastated me. I was very down about it and I just could not function. I was terrified as I had read that people with my condition can die suddenly, and I was worried that could happen to me. I had no confidence in doing any exercise at all, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to work. I had completely lost my mojo.”

She was referred to the Heart Failure team at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, and subsequently the Community Cardiac Rehabilitation team.

After being visited at home by cardiac specialist nurse Debbie Gregory, she was encouraged to take part in the programme of exercise classes, two times a week for six weeks. She was set the individual goal of increasing her confidence in doing exercise, and built up the amount she could do using gym equipment and circuit training.

“I was initially worried that the classes would be full of really sick, old people, but I could not have been more wrong,” she said.

“It was full of lively and smiley people, and the nurses were welcoming, patient and knowledgeable, and you were never made to feel ill or weak.

“It has made such a massive difference to me. I got my vitality back, I feel alive and really well. I feel back to my normal self. I am back to doing more dog walking, and I find that I have more stamina which helps, but more than that the fear that had been holding me back is gone.”

Sarah has continued going to classes at Graves since her treatment programme finished, and her ejection fraction is now back up to 58%, which is within a normal range. So impressive has her progress been, that she was named as Graves ‘member of the month’ for October. She has also taken on a role with a cardiomyopathy support group to help others who have the condition.

Senior Respiratory Physiotherapist Sarah Lee, who is part of the Community Cardiac Rehabilitation team, said: “To see someone who is young, who is working, who has a young family, it has been quite an emotional journey.

“She has seen such a huge improvement, her cardiac function is higher, her fitness level is higher and her mental state has improved as well. At first she did not know what she could do and what she couldn’t do, or if she would be able to carry on her business, but now she is doing that and more.

“It has been really lovely to see her journey, it is why you do the job.”


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