Meal Program Helps Recovery from Heart Attack
For the past four months, Alex Black has made frequent visits to the fitness center at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park.
“It’s kind of endurance training for your heart,” Black said. It’s weight-lifting to build your muscles up.”
Black is part of the cardiac rehabilitation program at Park Nicollet’s Heart and Vascular Center. It’s the result of having a heart attack last November at the age of 45.
“There’s not only the workout sessions, you have eight classroom sessions as well where you learn what causes heart attacks, what factors are your biggest risks for heart attacks,” Black said.
Yet the program involves more than exercise and education. He also gets 12, heart-healthy meals each week.
“They give you these meals that are pre-packaged,” Black said. “Some of them are frozen. Some of them fresh food.”
He’s referring to a pilot program called ‘Feeding Hearts.’
The Park Nicollet Foundation partnered with the nonprofit organization, ‘Open Arms of Minnesota,’ to provide a bag of fresh and frozen meals for people like Black for about 12 weeks.
“People get a week’s worth of food delivered at one time,” said Dr. Andrew Smith, a Park Nicollet cardiologist.
Dr. Smith helped make the ‘Feeding Hearts’ program a reality, mainly because education itself doesn’t always lead to changes.
“So if we say go do these things, people will go home and their fridge or their pantry — they’re still full of the same things, and it just becomes easy to fall back into the same traps,” Dr. Smith said. “But if we actually gave them the food, we watched as people absorbed these things into their lifestyle.”
Best of all, the meals are free, thanks to the Park Nicollet Foundation.
But most importantly, the food helps put Black on track for sustained success.
“It’s helped me understand portion size and the fact that I can eat stuff that tastes good, and it’s healthy,” Black said.
The Feeding Hearts program began late last year and is offered to a select group of patients enrolled in Park Nicollet’s cardiac rehab program. So far, Black says he has lost 50 pounds since his heart attack.