Patrick K Stronger than Ever

I feel I’m in the best shape of my life now, thanks to cardiac rehab. I will keep going as long as I can get up and go to the hospital.

On May 4, 2018, Patrick Kane of Toms River was in the kitchen preparing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a high school lacrosse game he was refereeing the following day. Suddenly, he collapsed. His wife, Cindy, called 911 and started performing CPR. When the police officer and paramedics arrived, “they shocked me with a defibrillator nine times to get my heart started before they took me to Community Medical Center (CMC),” he recalls. “They didn’t think I was going to make it.”

Patrick, 61, a retired sales manager, had experienced a cardiac arrest due to an abnormal heart rhythm disorder called ventricular fibrillation, in which the lower chambers of the heart quiver instead of pumping blood. He was treated with therapeutic hypothermia, in which the body temperature is reduced to protect the brain from damage due to lack of blood flow.

Rebuilding Strength

Fortunately, Patrick pulled through. He received a biventricular defibrillator, a device that helps synchronize the contractions of the two lower chambers of the heart. Then, after he was discharged, Patrick began the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at CMC, which consists of 36 one-hour, medically supervised sessions over the course of 12 weeks. “Patients start with a low level of exercise, and every time they return, it increases slightly,” says Samir Jain, MD, FAAC, Chair of Cardiology at CMC and Patrick’s cardiologist. “This gradually increases the workload on the heart, making it stronger and helping to regulate blood pressure.” Each patient wears a cardiac telemetry monitor while exercising so staff members can check his or her heart rate, heart rhythm and blood pressure.

When Patrick first started rehab, he was very weak. “I couldn’t walk on the treadmill for five minutes at 2 miles per hour-which is very slow walking-because I was dizzy and couldn’t breathe,” he says. During rehab, staff members paid close attention to Patrick. “They seemed like they cared,” he recalls. “They would ask questions. If my monitor had a little blip in it, they would check me."

After two months, Patrick had made progress. He was able to walk on the treadmill at a 16-minute mile pace. In that same period of time, he went from taking only 200 steps on the step machine to 2,000 steps. He was also able to ride four miles on a stationary bike.

In late August, nearly four months after his cardiac arrest, Patrick was able to return to refereeing one game a week, but only with young children-third and fourth graders. “I couldn’t run; I could only walk up and down the field,” he recalls. “I was really shaky.”

When Patrick’s rehab was completed, he continued with the optional maintenance program. “Patients use our facility as a gym,” explains Amy Stratton, RN, BSN, CCRN, a nurse with the program. “We’re available to help cardiac patients make positive lifestyle changes so they can continue to improve their health. We review patients’ diets and discuss ways to relieve stress, and we answer any questions about medications. We also monitor their vital signs during workouts.”

Cindy was comfortable with this approach. “If Patrick had gone to a regular gym, he would not have been monitored,” she says. “I feel more at ease that he’s working out in a hospital setting.”

A Life Transformed

By the end of the fall, Patrick was feeling like himself again-only much stronger. “When I had a treadmill stress test the other day, the nurse couldn’t believe I got my heart rate up to 130 and I wasn’t even sweating or breathing heavily,” says Patrick. “She said that even athletic people are short of breath once their heart rate reaches 130.”

Patrick attributes his complete recovery to cardiac rehab. “When new people come to rehab, I point to others who have been coming for many years and say, ‘See those people? They’re here because of this place. So when you finish your sessions, I recommend that you come back,’” he says.

Today, Patrick is refereeing multiple lacrosse games and works out at the rehab facility twice a week. He also takes a five- mile bike ride on the boardwalk three times a week and goes for frequent walks with his 4-month-old grandson, daughter, Mary Kate, and son, Kyle. “I’m so proud of him,” says Mary Kate. “He has taken his health into his own hands.”

Cindy marvels at the progress Patrick has made. “It’s a miracle,” she says. “He’s so committed to his workouts at the rehab facility that if he misses one day, he will make it up.”

Patrick is also amazed by how far he’s come. “I feel I’m in the best shape of my life now, thanks to cardiac rehab,” he says. “I will keep going as long as I can get up and go to the hospital.”

Your heart doesn’t beat just for you. Get it checked. To reach a Community Medical Center cardiac specialist, call 888.724.7123 or visit