Benefis Cardiac Rehab Helps Patients Get Back to Health, Hobbies, and Business

When his chest developed a “weird” tightness, Kevin LeFurgey of Fort Benton thought perhaps what he was feeling was indigestion. He drank a bunch of water and settled into an uneasy sleep on the couch.

Kevin, 39, thought he would wait to see whether the strange sensation abated. It wasn’t the pain he thought a heart attack would be, just “awkward and weird.” Occasionally, strange tingles would shoot down his arms.

kevin lefurgey

“I just didn’t expect it,” he said.

His wife thought he needed to see a doctor and drove him to Benefis Health System. In another two hours, Kevin’s heart would likely have been beyond saving, doctors told him.

Two heart surgeries later, Kevin is well on the road to recovery. He is part of Benefis Cardiac Rehabilitation, and he’s 25 pounds lighter.

Cardiac rehabilitation includes an exercise training program that takes into account medical history and physical limitations, as well as education on lifestyle changes that support recovery and emotional support/stress reduction tools.

Dan Spurgin’s cardiac event felt like heartburn. He was working in his shop – Dan builds oak rocking chairs – when he felt a heartburn sensation and his arms “felt funny.” The off feeling continued long enough that Dan told his wife, “We need to go see the doctor.”

The 84-year-old Great Falls man had a pair of stents in his heart within hours of arriving at the hospital.

dan spurgin

“I feel great now,” he said.

At cardiac rehab, Dan is celebrating being down 20 pounds – “You don’t want to lose weight this way,” he said – and is committed to a healthier lifestyle. Without cardiac rehab, he would be home watching television instead of exercising.

“They’ve got me on a good regimen,” he said. “I’m better and stronger.”

Last year, the cardiac rehabilitation program helped 177 patients get back to normal, and the program recently restored its maintenance program. Maintenance is designed to keep former patients moving in a less-controlled version of the program. Some participants aren’t yet ready to join a gym, and they appreciate the support and oversight of the staff while they exercise.

The staff helps patients figure out how to grow in strength to get back to regular life – without overdoing it, said Pam Crisp, Cardiopulmonary rehabilitation coordinator.

“The biggest concern I get is, ‘I don’t know how much I can do safely,’” Pam said.

For Kevin, recovery looks like another chance at life, a chance to see his youngest child through high school and maybe meet a grandchild someday, and a step closer to being medically cleared to return to work as a pilot.

bless your heart

“I have a long ways to go in life,” he said. “I’m going to be around for my family and enjoy as much life as I can.”

Read more:

Young Great Falls Dad After Heart Attack: 'If You Have Concern, Get Checked'

Benefis Cardiac Rehab a Work of Heart

A Spider Bite and the Benefis Cardiac Team Changed Choteau Nurse’s Life

Heart Attacks in Women Just as Deadly – But Signs Are Subtler than in Men