Cardiac rehabilitation reconditions patient for potential heart transplant

Cardiac rehabilitation reconditions patient for potential heart transplant

cardiovascular rehabilitation therapist coaching man on treadmill
Ricky Madison of Newark, Del., receives coaching from exercise technician Ian Deptula of Christiana Care's Cardiac Rehabilitation program.

Like some of the colorful characters populating the comic books he buys and sells, Ricky Madison, 35, of Newark, Del., has a superhero stature, standing 6 feet 6 inches  and weighing more than 300 pounds.

Battling heart failure while awaiting a heart transplant only makes the semblance stronger.

“Right now, I’m trying to lose weight and get healthy enough for a heart transplant,” Madison says. Christiana Care’s Cardiac Rehabilitation team is helping him reach that goal.

Weakened by congestive heart failure, Madison’s heart can no longer work on its own.  Last August, surgeons at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Md., implanted a HeartMate II left ventricular assist device (LVAD) to replace the pumping action of his heart and restore blood flow throughout Madison’s body while he waits for an organ donor.

“This is another successful case of partnering with a regional transplant center and community cardiologists to achieve optimal outcomes for a patient waiting for a heart transplant.,” said Mitchell Saltzberg, M.D., medical director of Christiana Care’s Heart  Failure Program.

Patients with advanced heart failure can use LVADs as a means to participate in cardiac rehab and return to a more normal quality of life. Although generally LVADs perform as a bridge to transplant, for some patients they can be a destination therapy or even a bridge to recovery.

“Christiana Care is eager to bring this technology increasingly to our patients so they will not have to leave our community for treatment with these lifesaving devices,” Dr. Saltzberg says “Having such a high caliber cardiac rehabilitation program allows us to care for these patients here in Delaware.”

Christiana Care Cardiac Rehabilitation is guiding Madison through a three-month, comprehensive program of personalized exercise, nutrition/medication counseling, stress management and support—and bringing him closer to his goal of becoming a candidate for heart transplant.

“I’m getting stronger and building confidence every day. I feel happier when I’m there, and it’s only five minutes away,” Madison said. “I have my comic-book business and a 2-year-old son who needs me to be around for him. I’m going to get on that transplant list.”

So far, the Heart Failure Program at Christiana Care has referred 15 patients for VAD support and has the full resources to care for these patients close to family and friends without the stress and expense of travelling while coping with serious illness. For information and referrals, call the Center for Heart and Vascular Health at 302-733-1663.