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Tech CTI center observes National Cardiac Week February 8-15

By Sandy Broughton

Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 19 - February 5, 1998

The Cardiac Therapy and Intervention Center (CTIC) at Virginia Tech will observe National Cardiac Rehabilitation Week February 8-15 with two special events designed to increase awareness of health, nutrition, and fitness, and of the exercise programs available to residents of the New River Valley.
On Monday, Feb. 9, at 2 p.m. in the town offices, Blacksburg Mayor Roger Hedgepeth will sign a proclamation in recognition of National Cardiac Rehabilitation Week and "urge all citizens to take a healthy and sound approach to caring for their well-being and to join forces to battle one of the nation's top killers."
Cardiac Rehabilitation Week will continue February 11 with an open house at the CTIC in War Memorial Hall from 7 to 8 a.m. The open house is an opportunity to learn more about the center's supervised exercise programs and risk-factor-reduction services. A buffet breakfast will be served. Call 1-7277 for information.
Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Recent data indicates that about 43 percent of all deaths in Montgomery County are the result of coronary heart disease. For 21 years, the CTIC has helped local individuals improve their cardiovascular health and reduce their risk of heart attack and other physical problems. It is a non-profit community service that is open to all residents of the New River Valley. It is operated through the College of Human Resources and Education's exercise-physiology program, in conjunction with the Human Performance Laboratory.
"Some people have the impression that we're only here for people who have heart disease or have had a heart attack," said center administrator Bill Herbert. "The truth is, we serve people with a broad range of health concerns and goals. We can help people with a lot of other problems, including coronary risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a sedentary lifestyle. We help people who have chronic health conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, or orthopedic problems. We can also help keep people from developing problems." There are currently about 80 participants in the program, ranging in age from 30 to mid-80s.
Research continues to prove the health benefits of exercise, and recent findings show that physical activity need not be strenuous to prove beneficial. In fact, inactivity was officially recognized as a coronary risk factor in the 1996 Surgeon General's Report. "Some people worry that they don't have the strength or stamina to exercise," said Jim Wright, CTIC program director. "They ask if it is safe for them to exercise. In fact, the most unsafe thing you can do is NOT to exercise. You are never too out of shape to start, and in our program we determine what a person's capacity is, what will be safe, and what will be effective. Then we individually design a program and help that person achieve his or her goals in a controlled environment."
The CTIC program's medically supervised exercises include walking, jogging, stationary cycling, rowing, resistance training, swimming, and aqua-aerobics. Services designed to reduce the risk of disease include nutrition and diet counseling, stress management, and teaching skills for lowering heart disease risk factors. Each participant starts with a physician-supervised EKG exercise-tolerance test to screen for cardiac problems and determine the safest and most effective exercise program for them. That and other laboratory evaluations help the CTIC staff personalize the participant's exercise prescription, medical supervision, diet analysis and recommendations, health-behavior counseling, and blood-pressure and heart-rate monitoring and recording.
In addition to medical personnel and other professional staff members, graduate students in clinical exercise physiology and undergraduate students in human, nutrition, foods, and exercise work with the professional staff to maximize individual attention provided to participants. "Moral support is at least as important as instruction and supervision," Wright said. "For many of our participants, the program is a social as well as a physical activity. Exercising with somebody is the key to motivation."
National Cardiac Rehabilitation Week is sponsored each year by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. This year's theme is "Do Your Part, Take Care of Your Heart." For more information about the Cardiac Therapy and Intervention Center open house and programs, call 1-7277 or visit the center's web site at http://www.bevnet/health/cardio/vtcard.html.