For years, serious heart attacks meant hours of weekly appointments. Now, home-based cardiac rehab has changed everything for patients like Larry Judd.
At 70 years old, Larry Judd was the picture of health. Although he had high blood pressure and high cholesterol, he exercised regularly and ate a healthy diet.
“I tried blood pressure and cholesterol medications, but I didn’t like the side effects, and I kept myself in shape, so I thought that was enough,” said Judd.
And it was — until April 1, 2023, when Larry Judd had a major heart attack.
After emergency heart surgery, Judd’s condition stabilized, and he started his recovery journey. He met with his new Kaiser Permanente care team to discuss a recently adopted rehabilitation program: home-based cardiac rehab.
“I remember them saying they were going to take care of me and help me get my heart fully functioning again, or as close as possible to it,” said Judd.
At the first appointment, Maria Diestra, RN, cardiology, Kaiser Permanente Riverside Medical Center, said both Larry and his wife, Dana Judd, appeared anxious but also engaged and determined.
“I could tell Mr. Judd was motivated to do exactly what he needed to do to stay healthy, which is always a good start,” said Diestra.
Diestra is one of the many Kaiser Permanente care team members who supports patients with heart conditions through home-based cardiac rehab. She explained to Judd the importance of taking cholesterol and blood pressure medications and sticking to his new exercise program and plant-based diet.
She also helped him set up his new activity tracker, a wearable device provided at no cost to patients in home-based cardiac rehab. This device measured Judd’s vital signs while he exercised and allowed Diestra to monitor Judd’s progress virtually.
Over the next 8 weeks, Larry Judd committed to making permanent changes. His care team worked with him to adjust his cholesterol and blood pressure medications — now, the side effects don’t bother him. His wife supported him the entire way, adopting his new plant-based diet and joining him on daily walks.
After 8 weeks, the results were outstanding. Judd cut his cholesterol level in half, and his blood pressure readings were normal for the first time in many years.
"Mr. Judd’s risk for having another heart attack has been reduced, and with his controlled blood pressure and cholesterol levels, his quality of life and longevity prospects have improved." Maria Diestra, RN, cardiology, Kaiser Permanente Riverside Medical Center
Diestra said these numbers — which Judd tried to achieve for years without success — come with the help of home-based cardiac rehab, which provides accountability, coaching, and direct support.
“Mr. Judd’s risk for having another heart attack has been reduced, and with his controlled blood pressure and cholesterol levels, his quality of life and longevity prospects have improved,” said Diestra.
After a serious heart attack, Judd got a second chance at life, and he’s taking full advantage of it.
“Toward the end of the 8 weeks, I had a Disneyland trip planned with my grandkids. It was going to be hot, and I was going to be walking a lot, so I was nervous. The day came, and we walked almost 12 miles, and I did just as well — or even better — than everyone else,” said Judd.