The specialist support group for heart patients in South Tyneside is celebrating 25 years getting people back on their feet.
The cardiac rehabilitation support group at South Tyneside District Hospital meets every Friday in the physiotherapy gym and is recognised by the British Heart Foundation.
It is run by the members themselves - who have all been through South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust’s cardiac rehabilitation programme.
Activities involve floor exercises, rowing machines and exercise bikes.
Cardiology service lead Jakki Colwill and Theresa Rowley, specialist nurse for cardiac rehabilitation, supervise but the members lead the group.
Chairman Ron Smith, 88, of Jarrow, who had a heart attack in 1992, is one of the original members and still attends.
He said: “I’m very proud of the group, which has helped a lot of people like me to stay alive. I really enjoy going and still take part in the exercises.”
Cardiology consultant Dr Abdul Nasser said: “The support group do a fantastic job. Our cardiology department offers a period of rehabilitation to all patients after a heart attack. The support group them comes in and, through the members sharing their own experiences and giving encouragement to one another, they are able to improve their mental and physical health and overall wellbeing and prevent readmissions.
“There are currently more men in the group so we would like to encourage more women, in particular, to join.”
South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust chairman Neil Mundy added: “The cardiac support group is incredibly important. For 25 years it has helped heart patients to live active, longer and healthier lives and, crucially, has helped to prevent many further heart attacks.”
The idea for the group came from coronary care sister Dorothy Pearson who saw it as a good way to encourage patients to carry on with exercise following their cardiac rehabilitation programme.
Mrs Colwill said: “The support group plays an important role in helping patients lead normal lives and reduce their risk of another heart attack and it is fantastic that it is celebrating its 25th anniversary and is still going strong.”
“Once they’ve made a physical recovery from the effects of a heart attack, it is recommended that people do regular physical activity. Some patients find that being with other people gives them the motivation to exercise.”
To contact the group, call the cardiac rehabilitation team on 0191 4041000, extension 3097.