DANBURY, Conn. -- Danbury Hospital's Marcus Cardiac Rehabilitation Center offers cardiac rehabilitation for people who have or are at severe risk for heart disease.
Its outpatient programs use exercise, education, support and behavioral modification to limit the physical and psychological effects of cardiac illness.
Southbury resident Marueen Lizarazo, 66, works out at the center three times a week.
Frank Barbato of Oxford also exercises there regularly.
Both patients entered the program after being successfully treated for blocked arteries at Danbury Hospital.
In September, Lizarazo was trying to sleep one night but couldn't get comfortable, she said recounting her heart attack.
"I felt pressure in my chest, between my upper shoulder blades and I found myself walking around the room rubbing my jaw,” Lizarazo said.
After fixing her pillows and trying to go back to sleep, she couldn't. A "vague feeling of heaviness" persisted in her chest and shoulder blades, so she woke her husband to take her to the hospital.
"I think I'm having a heart attack," she told him.
At the Danbury Hospital Emergency Department, Lizarazo was examined. She was brought to the cardiac catheterization laboratory where she underwent an angioplasty with stent placement to unblock an occlusion in the right coronary artery.
The artery causing the heart attack was opened just over an hour after Lizarazo arrived at the emergency department, she said.
Barbato has been physically active most of his life.
“I have always considered myself to be in relatively good shape. I go walking regularly and used to jog, run and had previously participated in five New York City Marathons,” he said.
But last fall while out walking, Barbato felt a "numbness and discomfort in his left arm and a slight pain in his chest while walking up a steep hill."
At first he shrugged it off but the symptoms came back once Barbato was home walking up a flight of stairs and bending down to lift something.
"I knew I had to do something.
Ultimately, Barbato was referred to a cardiologist at Danbury Hospital where tests revealed he had a blockage.
On Dec. 2, he underwent cardiac catheterization, which revealed one of his coronary arteries was 95 percent blocked.
Barbato's artery was repaired and he spent the night in the hospital.
An exercise physiologist from the cardiac rehabilitation program visited him and now Barbato works out regularly at the Marcus Cardiac Rehabilitation Center at Danbury Hospital.
"I’ve even changed my eating habits for the good and I plan to continue to do so," he said.
For more information on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, go to heart.org .
For more information on the Marcus Cardiac Rehabilitation Center, click here.
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