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Published on May 09, 2019

Reginald Hudson and Hannah Crary, exercise physiologist, work together to rebuild his strength after quadruple bypass surgery.

Heart strong

Blue River's Reginald Hudson credits Gundersen Boscobel Cardiopulmonary Rehab team with helping him regain strength after open-heart surgery.

Reginald "Reg" Hudson was fighting genetics and the lasting impact of an industrial accident.

He underwent open-heart surgery to avoid the same cardiovascular diseases that took the lives of his father and brother. He knew the risks that still existed if he didn't change his lifestyle.

Last fall, Reg turned to a team at Gundersen Boscobel Area Hospital and Clinics to learn how to lead a healthier life.

Now 67 years old and a graduate of the Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation program, Reg is feeling stronger than he has in decades.

"I give them 100 percent credit," he says of his rehab team.

In 2008, a 400-pound steel beam struck Reg while at his carpentry job, crushing his sternum and fracturing his skull. He says onsite emergency responders saved his life.

"I'm very fortunate," Reg says.

Soon after, Reg felt pressure in his chest, as if someone was sitting on him.

Stress tests were clear, but Reg underwent an angioplasty because of his genetics. Reg's father had quadruple bypass surgery when he was 48 years old, before he died of a heart attack at 60; his brother died of a heart attack at 56.

"The doctor told me that no matter how well I took care of myself, I was going to have a problem," he said.

In 2009, Reg had four stents placed to open his coronary arteries after medical staff discovered seven blockages. In August 2018, he underwent quadruple bypass surgery with discharge orders to undergo cardiopulmonary rehabilitation.

This led him to Gundersen Boscobel Area Hospital and Clinics, just eight miles from his home outside Blue River, Wis.

"I heard that the Gundersen rehab clinic was the best and unfortunately, because of my family history, I found out first hand," Reg says.

Gundersen Boscobel's Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation program is designed for those who have undergone a heart procedure or who have other cardiovascular conditions, such as angina, heart failure, or heart valve replacement or repair. Staff aim to improve a patient's health through education, counseling and exercise.

In October, Reg teamed with a registered nurse, exercise physiologist and registered dietician to set obtainable goals for a healthy life.

Three days a week for three months, Reg walked on a treadmill, pedaled on a stationary bike and lifted weights to improve his lung capacity and strengthen his chest muscles.

"Our number one goal was to assist Reg in recovery from his recent bypass surgery and to help him return to his active lifestyle by helping him to regain some strength and endurance," says Andrea Ryan, RN, Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation. "Education was also provided to help Reg have a better understanding of cardiovascular disease and his personal risk factors."

Reg completed rehab in December and adopted a lifestyle that involves a healthier diet and exercise. Staff credits his successful recovery to his determination and willingness to adjust, while Reg says none of it would be possible without the rehab team he found knowledgeable and energetic.

"We made a great group. They let me work as hard as I wanted to and always made it fun for me," he says. "I would recommend rehab at Gundersen Boscobel for anyone who needs help preparing for a full and active life after a devastating life-altering event."

Learn more about Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation at Gundersen Boscobel by calling (608) 375-6221.

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