Henry Adams figured his running days were over after undergoing cardiothoracic surgery, coronary artery bypass grafting and aortic valve replacement in June 2016 at Rochester General Hospital. The dream of one day entering the Marine Corps Marathon seemed to be over for Henry, 60, who spent 26 years in the Marine Corps.
But with the expertise, guidance and encouragement of the team at Rochester Regional Health, Henry not only returned to the roads, he completed the full 26.2 miles during the 41st Marine Corps Marathon less than four months later.
“The cardiac rehab team at Ridgeway told me that if I did everything they said then I could run it,” Henry says. “I didn’t believe them at first, but then I started seeing the progress.”
After surgery was performed by Ronald Kirshner, MD, Henry began his recovery under the direction of cardiologist David Fries, MD, and the team of cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialists at Ridgeway.
By strengthening his heart through exercise, weightlifting and stretching, Henry was able to run while maintaining a lower heart rate. He began slowly, running for a minute or two while closely monitoring his heart rate. Within one month he was running 45 minutes without stopping.
“The rehab team trained him, coached him and became his sounding board and support,” Dr. Fries says.
Henry developed a bond with the team members, who presented him with a t-shirt that they all signed. He wore that t-shirt when he ran the marathon.
While the team provided Henry with the expertise and encouragement he needed to fulfill a dream, he provided them with inspiration.
“He went from being unable to run one mile without being severely short of breath to open heart surgery to completing a marathon,” Dr. Fries says. “When he came back to us in November and said he’d finished it, it just felt great.