Beaumont Doctor Climbs Mount Olympus after Cardiac Rehab

Dr. Alexander climbingby Thomas J. Alexander, M.D., Beaumont gastroenterologist and cardiac rehabilitation patient

What’s your Olympus?

Beaumont’s cardiac rehabilitation program is staffed by highly-trained nurses and physiologists who are attuned to the special needs of the cardiac patient. I say this not just because I work at Beaumont, but I was a patient there as well. The degree of medical supervision is quite unlike what one commonly finds at most local health clubs. Staying within your heart rate and perceived exertion ranges is the mantra we all learn. We’re also educated regarding potential adverse signs and symptoms – and the need to decrease exercise intensity when these occur. Our resting and exercise vital signs and heart rhythms are periodically monitored, giving us a measure of reassurance. A defibrillator and crash cart are also available for rare emergencies that may occur. Strength and balance training are emphasized in the Advanced Training program; staff taught me how to progress from moderate to vigorous exercise, sensibly and safely.

My initial goal in cardiac rehab was to prevent another cardiac “event,” and there is plenty of scientific evidence to support this notion. As I progressed, I found that I was able to do things I previously could not have done, even decades earlier. Hey, muscle is probably the only organ that one can get to regenerate. Soon, I set my sights even higher.

I decided to climb Mount Olympus in Greece.

Mt. Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece with an elevation of 9,570 feet!

Mt. Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece with an elevation of 9,570 feet!This was a trip that actually started in 1977 when, as a student, we “almost” got to the top, a fact that nagged me over the years. What was quite remarkable to me at the time was a surgeon we met who made the climb at least once a season, despite having undergone heart bypass surgery years earlier.

I began training for the climb by gradually pushing the envelope until I felt I could safely do more than would be required for the feat. The first day at Mount Olympus, we climbed 3,300 feet up a beautiful gorge with the Aegean Sea in the distance. The next day we climbed another 2,000 feet along mountainsides, cliffs and plateaus, past antelope to the same refuge I stayed in 36 year earlier. After lunch and some rest, we made our final ascent, a 700 foot scramble up a 70 degree grade to the summit at 9,570 feet. What a view – mission accomplished!

I could not have realized this lifelong dream without the coaching and expertise of the wonderful caring preventive cardiology and rehabilitation staff at the Beaumont Health Center. I cannot thank them enough. I also wish to thank my exercise comrades, whose friendship and willingness to exchange good-natured ribbing made working out something to look forward to. Sensible exercise is our medicine. It is likely the single greatest intervention one can do to live longer and function better.

So… what’s your Olympus?

This story will appear in the upcoming edition of our State of the Heart newsletter. State of the Heart provides valuable information on heart health. Subscribe to receive the electronic version of our newsletter.
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8 thoughts on “Beaumont Doctor Climbs Mount Olympus after Cardiac Rehab

  1. Lucy says:

    Congrats to you Dr. Alexander! Thanks for sharing your inspiring story!

  2. Kostaki bis says:

    Way to go koumbaros. Είσαι μεγάλος μάγκας και σε αγαπο πολύ . Μπράβο παλικάρι μου.

  3. Kostaki bis says:

    Συγχαρητήρια στο κουμπάρος μου! Το χρόνο θα πάμε μαζί.

  4. Kelly Burns says:

    WaY to go DR. A!

  5. Shelly Delph says:

    Congrats to you Doc!!! You may not remember me, but I worked for your group waaaay back in the late 1980’s. You have always been a go getter. So happy that you finally made your dream a reality and no more nagging that you didn’t quite get to the top. Misson well done!!!

  6. Kurt Filips says:

    Dr. Alexander,
    What was your heart rate and BP and oxygen saturation at the top of the Mountain?
    Which machine(s) at the cardiac rehab center did you use to begin your training?
    Great job, you have provided confidence for others going forward in the cardiac rehab center.

    Dr. K F

  7. Silvia Merucci RN says:

    Dr. Alexander,
    I am so happy you made it to the top! Your dedication and hard work gives all of us confidence to move forth in accomplishing our goals (dreams). What will your next adventure be?
    Silvia RN

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