Patient Story

Cardiac Rehab Helps Heart Patient Make a Full Recovery

Gus Gnorski describes his experiences with the cardiac rehabilitation program at Aurora.

Gus Gnorski is no stranger to a busy schedule. A well-known reporter and radio personality, he’s often rushing off to cover a story. He rarely has time to catch his breath! But in late October 2010, he found it was difficult to get a full breath.

Concerned, Gus stopped by Aurora Advanced Healthcare in Port Washington to schedule an appointment with his primary care doctor, Scot Wilfong, DO.

“The staff said they could fit me in right away,” Gus states. “Dr. Wilfong looked at me, looked at my chest, and said ‘Call your wife and have her meet you. You’re going to the hospital – now.’”

Gus needed surgery – immediately – for congestive heart failure.

That night, Gus had a life-saving stent implanted at the Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, which helped restore circulation to his heart. He had successfully beaten “the widowmaker.” But to keep his heart healthy, his doctors prescribed cardiac rehabilitation.

Aurora’s Cardiac Rehab – Three Phases to Health

Cardiac rehabilitation at Aurora Health Care is a comprehensive, medically supervised program that can improve health and help lessen the chance of a repeat heart attack.

The Aurora Cardiac Rehab program has three phases: inpatient, outpatient and maintenance. Phase one of Gus’ rehab began when he was still in the hospital. It included mild exercise to help improve his strength before going home. Rehab staff also provided education and a personalized plan for reducing cardiac risk factors.

Phase Two – Outpatient Rehab

Within a matter of days, Gus was home and began phase two – outpatient cardiac rehab.

He attended cardiac rehab at Aurora Medical Center in Grafton three days a week. “I really liked that they adapted it to the individual,” he says.

Find a Cardiac Rehab Location

As an integrated health care system, Aurora provides cardiac rehabilitation at several hospital and clinic sites.

Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center as a tertiary care center provides procedures such as Heart BypassSurgery, Angioplasty, Stents, Heart Valve surgery and other state of the art procedures. 

He adds, “The staff helps you understand how your body is working and what you need to do to keep it working. It’s different from a health club – because this staff really knows how the body works.”

Education is also a vital part of outpatient rehab. During this phase of cardiac rehab, patients receive education and counseling tailored to their individual needs. They will learn the best diet for their health, and they will learn more about any medications they may be on.

 “I learned that exercise is more critical than anything when rehabbing the heart,” Gus says. ”But in the program, I also learned about medication and diet changes. It’s very comprehensive.”

He also appreciated the convenient location, joking “With the pharmacy here, and my doctor around the corner, it’s like health central!”

Phase Three – Maintenance

Two years after his heart surgery, Gus is in phase three of his rehab: maintenance. This includes long-term exercise and lifestyle changes to minimize cardiac risk. He exercises regularly and follows a heart-healthy diet.

“Physically, I’m full recovered,” he says. “The rehab program got me back to everything I want to do.”

Gus urges other cardiac patients to use the program if they experience a heart condition. “Do it – it makes a huge difference in your recovery.”

Gus notes many reasons for choosing Aurora’s cardiac rehab program: convenient locations, flexible times and reasonable prices. But he is most impressed by the knowledgeable, supportive staff.

“At the Aurora rehab, there is always someone here monitoring everything. It helps you feel confident about what you’re doing.”

“It’s just a great program. I feel so much better – it really brought me back to health.”