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200 Hospital Avenue
Jefferson, NC 28640

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Picture of Marc Boston, Clinical Exercise Physiologist for Ashe Memorial Hospital, standing in A Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program Center Room wearing scrubs and a mask looking at an older male patient who is sitting down using exercise machinery

Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation program helps improve patients' quality of life

Marc Boston knows what he's up against.

He can't change the past.

But over the course of a 12-week span, the Ashe Memorial Hospital clinical exercise physiologist can positively alter his patient's future.

Through outpatient cardiac rehabilitation, Boston helps those who have suffered a cardiac event regain control of their heart health. He has yet to meet a cardiopulmonary patient he hasn't been able to help through the program.

"I've seen patients who are in pretty bad shape; and being able to help someone that has had a cardiac event and seeing them progress from the beginning to the end is phenomenal," says Boston. "That's just one of the reasons why I like what I'm doing. A lot of places don't have cardio rehab, and we do, which is a good thing. I've seen patients get a lot of positives out of it."

Ashe Memorial's outpatient cardiac rehabilitation program is designed for patients that have gone through some type of cardiac event, such as a heart transplant, bypass surgery, stent placement or valve replacement, with the goal of lowering their risk of a future cardiac event.

Boston runs the cardiopulmonary rehabilitation program Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m. and 12 p.m. Sessions last for an hour with each session limited to about six patients.

The insurance based program, which combines cardiac and pulmonary patients, runs for 12 weeks with patients completing a series of 36 sessions. Formerly run out of Mountain Hearts Fitness Center, the program is now located inside the hospital in the Rehabilitation Services department.

Patients receive an initial assessment and are then given an exercise plan tailored to their own needs and limitations, which includes the use of treadmills, stationary bikes, and elliptical machines, among other equipment.

Over the course of the 12-week program, Boston will gradually increase a patient's time, speed or intensity to gage improvement.

"I've never had someone start the program and didn't improve by the time they were finished," says Boston. "People think everyone is on the same workout level, but it's what you are able to do. Each exercise prescription is tailored to their physical activity level."

In addition to an exercise plan, Ashe Memorial's cardiopulmonary rehabilitation program also offers group education classes covering a variety of cardiovascular or pulmonary related topics such as diet and nutrition.

Throughout the program, patients gain a sense of camaraderie and are able to discuss and work through some of the same issues that arise following a cardiac event.

"Depression is really high after heart attack surgery," says Boston. "Cardiac rehab helps with that because they can talk about it with other people who are going through similar circumstances. That's what's cool about this program. In general, it helps the community to have this program."

A native of Morganton, N.C., Boston attended Appalachian State University where he earned a degree in cardiac rehabilitation and exercise science in 2012. It was in the midst of an EKG class during his second year at Appalachian State that Boston became intrigued by the idea of cardiac rehabilitation. He landed an internship at the Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center in Boone the following semester and has been involved in the field ever since.

When he's not busy helping patients improve their quality of life, Boston enjoys golfing, hiking and spending time outdoors with his wife Taryn and their daughters Harper, 6, and Emryn, 3.