UnityPoint Health–Trinity Heart Center is launching a new celebration for its Pritikin Cardiac Rehab Patients of the Year to recognize heart event survivors.

This award recognizes individuals for their progress after suffering a heart event, a news release says.

UnityPoint Health –Trinity honors these people as the inaugural 2021 Pritikin Cardiac Rehab Patients of the Year to recognize their hard work, determination and commitment to heart health:

Paula Ploen, of Rock Island, was referred by her cardiologist to the Pritikin program at Trinity program in December 2021 after having multiple stents inserted into her heart. When she began the program, Ploen struggled to exercise for as little as eight minutes. She can now exercise for more than 45 minutes and has dramatically increased her energy levels, the release says. Upon graduating from the program in March, Paula had lost 11 pounds, improved her blood pressure to ideal target levels and increased her exercise capacity by more than 50%. Ploen credits the program for changing her life and teaching her the skills to stay active and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Anna McKay, of Moline, was referred to the Pritikin program at Trinity by her cardiac surgeon after a heart valve replacement in September 2021. Initially she had to deal with restrictions while recovering from surgery, but to her surprise she quickly progressed to working hard on the treadmill. At graduation, she had lost 10 pounds in the program, improved her blood pressure to ideal target levels and increased her fitness level by 65%. McKay was excited about what she learned about heart-healthy habits and a healthy mindset, and she introduced the healthy lifestyle to her family members. She stays active at work by taking breaks to climb the stairs.

Randy Frick, of Alexis, was referred by his cardiologist to Pritikin program at Trinity after suffering a heart attack in November 2021. Frick was weak and struggled to walk without becoming short of breath. He used the knowledge he gained in the program to change his exercise and diet habits, and it changed his life, the release says. Frick lost 20 pounds, attained ideal target blood pressure and can perform his work duties without running out of breath. He continues to improve and get stronger every day. He credits the guidance and compassion from the staff for pushing him and giving him the confidence to do more.

“Every person who walks through that door is an inspiration –or hope -to others who may be worried about where to start after a heart health scare,” says Dan Saskowski, manager of Trinity’s Pritikin Intensive Cardiac Rehab (ICR) program. “We’re here to reassure you and take the guess work out of how best to build the tools and habits you need to transform your health and life.”

“We’re so blessed to walk beside people who are making tremendous strides toward a healthier heart,” says Kathy Pulley, director of cardiology services.

Trinity Heart Center is the only provider in the area to offer the Pritikin ICR program, the release says. Since 2018, UnityPoint Health–Trinity has served about 1,200 patients through the program.

For more information, visit here or call 309-779-5340.