Peripheral Arterial Disease walking program provides patient pain relief
If you smoke quit. If you have a heart problem get it fixed. If you have leg pain because of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) do something about it.
That's the attitude that Philip Boomershine who turned 62 in December 2016 has brought to various health problems he's faced since his first heart issue in 1998. And it has paid off for the Richmond resident.
"You have to be willing to make changes and know it won't happen overnight" he said recently just after walking 3.5 miles in the Reid Health PAD exercise program. The program is specifically designed to reduce or eliminate leg pain in people dealing with the disease - and Boomershine who was almost done with the three-month program said it has done that for him.
Boomershine clearly faces his health and other life challenges head on. He retired from the military and then spent 18 years working at a Richmond RV dealership. Cardiovascular disease runs in his family so when he was having some odd pains and felt a pressure in his wrist he knew something could be wrong. He finished a cigarette and drove himself to Reid at 2 a.m. to find out he was having a heart attack which was treated with stent placement.
With the reality of a heart problem as his motivator he quit smoking immediately and even persuaded others in his family to quit too. He remained active walking and traveling.
He lost his wife of almost 40 years in 2012 to cancer and retired soon after that. A stress test in December of last year led to heart bypass surgery which was then followed earlier this year by problems and pain from PAD in his legs that began soon after he completed rehab from heart surgery. "It's been very hard this year" he said.
A procedure on his right leg gave him much relief but a similar procedure on the left didn't relieve pain as much. Dr. Zulfiqar Mirza cardiologist recommended the PAD class to increase blood flow and Boomershine signed right up.
Dr. Mirza said the exercise program is an excellent addition to the interventional procedures noting that Boomershine's treatments included an "atherectomy" that involves using special tools to remove plaque from arteries; and "balloon angioplasty" which is placing a catheter in the arteries to reach narrow areas and inflate a balloon to improve blood flow. "Combining the exercise program with the selective use of catheter-based therapies results in the best outcomes for patients with arterial disease of lower extremities" he said. He called the special PAD exercise program a "leap forward" for the cardiovascular program.
In the supervised program Boomershine has increased his ability to walk and the pain has subsided as a result. "You get what you put into it" he said. Not everyone with PAD may progress as rapidly as he has he said but any progress is improvement.
"If you are only able to walk a little bit that's better than nothing" he said.
Now that he's done with the program he plans to join a fitness club to continue an exercise regimen when he's not traveling to visit family or see the country. He has a goal of seeing all 50 states and only has only four to go - North Dakota Utah Arizona and Oregon.
His message for anyone with similar health challenges is to do what they can to improve it. "My quality of life was going down the tubes. But I feel great now."
About the program: The PAD exercise program requires a physician referral. It is held in the Reid Health Cardiopulmonary Rehab department on the main campus 1100 Reid Parkway. For more information call (765) 983-3297.