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FirstHealth Bridge to Wellness Helps Patients Manage Congestive Heart Failure

| Date Posted: 9/30/2022

PINEHURST, N.C. - In March, Bruce Olin sat in his doctor’s office and received a diagnosis of congestive heart failure.


“It was pretty depressing to know that, at 69 years old, I have congestive heart disease,” Olin said.


His doctor, Mark Landers, M.D., sent a referral to FirstHealth Heart Failure Bridge to Wellness. Olin was motivated to make positive changes and attended the rehabilitation program three times a week for three months before transitioning to FirstHealth’s Bridge to Wellness program.


Heart Failure Bridge to Wellness is for patients diagnosed with heart failure who do not meet the criteria for cardiac rehabilitation. The program offers a supportive, structured environment for individuals to work towards positive health changes. Participants receive an individualized health plan that includes supervised exercise training and heart failure education. The program helps increase patients’ quality of life as they learn to manage cardiac conditions long-term. Olin said through the program he learned his condition was manageable.


“Congestive heart failure is not a death sentence,” he said. “It takes work and dedication to manage it, but the positive results I’ve seen in (Heart Failure) Bridge to Wellness motivates me to keep coming back.”


Nearly 6 million Americans have congestive heart failure, which is a long-term condition in which the heart is not able to pump blood as well as it should. Treatment includes lifestyle changes, medications, and, in more severe cases, surgical procedures.


Since joining the Heart Failure Bridge to Wellness program, Olin has lost 30 pounds and gained knowledge on how to improve his condition. He said he learned helpful nutrition tips, including the importance of proper hydration and a low-sodium diet. Olin also received a personalized exercise plan and continues to work with the nurses and exercise physiologists to progress toward his goals.


“I’ll go to Kay Maria Green, one of the exercise specialists, and say I want to push the envelope a little bit,” Olin said. “She’ll give me the green light and continue to supervise to make sure my workouts are going well. All the staff are so nice and informative.”


He completed the Heart Failure Bridge to Wellness program and now attends Bridge to Wellness three times a week and exercises for roughly an hour each time. Bridge to Wellness is a program for prevention and progression and individuals do not have to have a heart failure diagnosis to participate.


Olin said he continues to feel better and see positive results. Melissa Stewart, director of Cardiac Rehabilitation at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital, said helping patients thrive is the goal of Heart Failure Bridge to Wellness and Bridge to Wellness.


“We work closely with each participant to ensure they’re receiving the best program for their specific needs and conditions,” Stewart said. “Our goal is to help support and educate patients on how to manage symptoms so they can still feel good and enjoy life.”


Individuals may be eligible for the FirstHealth Heart Failure Bridge to Wellness program if they have a diagnosis of heart failure but do not meet the criteria for cardiac rehabilitation. The Bridge to Wellness program is available for those who have completed rehabilitation or Heart Failure Bridge to Wellness. Bridge to Wellness is also open to people with risk factors for heart disease who would like to be proactive in primary prevention. All three programs are located in the FirstHealth Fitness center at 170 Memorial Drive in Pinehurst. They are also offered at the FirstHealth Cardiac Rehabilitation locations in Sanford, Rockingham and Troy.


Olin said Heart Failure Bridge to Wellness has given him the strength and stamina to keep up with his hobbies, which include gardening, tending to his greenhouse, playing the ukulele and learning piano. “The program has shown me there is a better way and, with self-determination and guidance from staff, you can be a victor rather than a victim.”  


To learn more about Heart Failure Bridge to Wellness, please call (910) 715-1886.

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