After a hip surgery in 2016, 66-year-old Pomona resident Sally Soverns
had hoped she’d get back to an active lifestyle. However, a burning
pain in her legs just 15 minutes into walking her dog now was forcing
her to stop, sit and rest until the pain subsided. A day at the Los Angeles
County Fair, one of her favorite pastimes, seemed completely out of the picture.
For years, Sally blamed her muscle pain on aging and being out of shape,
but in the early spring of 2019, as her symptoms worsened, she’d
had enough. She made an appointment with her primary care physician, who
assessed her leg symptoms and ultimately determined she needed specialized
care. Sally’s doctor referred her to Nitanth R. Vangala, MD, a cardiologist
in Pomona. He performed an ultrasound and diagnosed her with Peripheral
Artery Disease (PAD).
PAD is a chronic circulatory condition in which plaque build-up in the
arteries reduces blood flow to the muscles in the legs, arms, head and
stomach. The condition affects more than 18 million people in the nation,
according to the
CardioVascular Coalition. Complications from PAD include an increased risk of heart attack, stroke
and possible limb amputations. For Sally, PAD caused leg pain when walking
due to less oxygenated blood being delivered to her exercising leg muscles.
The burning pain in her legs would slowly resolve only when seated and
reducing the demand on the muscles.
With this diagnosis, Dr. Vangala referred Sally to “PAD Rehab”
at PVHMC, a new, medically-supervised exercise therapy program. During
her first appointment, our Cardiovascular Rehabilitation team worked with
her to develop an individualized exercise plan based on her specific medical
history. The goal in Rehab was to slowly and methodically increase the
demand on the muscles, allowing them to gradually adjust to the increased
oxygen demands associated with walking longer distances.
So, three times a week for five weeks her exercise prescription subtlety
increased. Sally participated in treadmill-walking, resistance training,
and PAD education. Gradually, as her muscles became more fit, thus using
the oxygen they do get more efficiently, she built better exercise tolerance
allowing longer walks at a quicker pace. Within one week, Sally also noticed
less pain with routine daily activities. And, as of May 31, Sally became
our first graduate of the “PAD Rehab” program!
“I have to say thank you, thank you, thank you to my entire team
of therapists,” says Sally. “They were extremely supportive
in helping me get back to a life without pain and restrictions.”
PVHMC’s “PAD Rehab” program is a Supervised Exercise
Therapy (SET) program, and is supported by the American Heart Association
as a first line, noninvasive, low risk therapy for PAD and covered by Medicare.
For more information about our “PAD Rehab” program, please visit:
www.pvhmc.org/cardiacrehab or call 909.865.9810.