Cardiac Rehab Patient Is All Heart

As Dwight Hapeman lay in a Lutheran Medical Center hospital bed recovering from a a triple bypass surgery,

he promised himself three things: (1) He’d get well again. (2) He’d volunteer to help other cardiac patients. (3) He’d meet his partner in life. All lofty goals, but he was feeling lucky.

Hapeman, of Aurora, knew what he had to do to get well, because he’d done it just a few months before. In March 2007, a routine EKG had revealed damage to his heart from a previous, silent heart attack. A subsequent cardiac catheterization and stenting procedure revealed that two of his arteries were significantly blocked.

Wake-Up Call

I was completely shocked. I never had any symptoms, and I thought I was healthy. But I knew I had to take this seriously.
— Dwight Hapeman

Hapeman committed to Lutheran’s Outpatient Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, where he participated in monitored exercise sessions with a caring, knowledge- able staff; classes on nutrition, stress management and other health topics; and support groups. He lost almost 50 pounds and was feeling great.

And then, in October, he had a massive heart attack. “This time, I had all of the typical symptoms—nausea, chest pain and breathlessness,” he says. After the emergency triple bypass saved his life, Hapeman recommitted to outpatient rehab to get healthy again.

Promises Kept

Today, Hapeman, 63, has kept all three promises. He’s healthy and fit, weighing in at 160 pounds. He leads Lutheran’s cardiac support group and visits patients at hospitals throughout Denver as a volunteer with Mended Hearts, the oldest national cardiac support group in the U.S.

Visiting other cardiac rehab programs has given him a new appreciation for Lutheran. “The level of personalized care that patients receive at Lutheran is truly special,” he says.

Promise No. 3 was fulfilled on a beach in Fort Lauderdale in January 2011, when he married his wife, Maggie (they're shown together above). Coincidentally, Maggie is a former cardiac nurse and is now a hospice nurse in Aurora.

“There is life after a heart attack—even two heart attacks—I’m living proof,” he says. “The key is to do your part and take rehab seriously.”

»Mending Hearts

To learn more about Lutheran Medical Center’s cardiac rehabilitation programs, please call 303-403-3604 or visit lutheranmedicalcenter.org/heartcare.