South Hill man gets life back after cardiac rehab. Twice.

Published 5:02 pm Thursday, November 4, 2021

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South Hill resident Tim Kallam was 49 years old when he had a massive heart attack. A few years later, he experienced a second artery blockage. Both times he completed cardiac rehabilitation at VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital (VCU Health CMH) in South Hill. The therapy gave him the confidence to enjoy living his life. Here is Tim’s story.

In 2019, Tim was moving his daughter into her apartment in Roanoke. In the months prior he had experienced chest pain and a tingling sensation in his arm, but he had shrugged it off as being overweight and out of shape. After several trips to the apartment, he went into cardiac arrest. Paramedics resuscitated him, but he lost consciousness again on the way to the hospital.

The widow-maker

Tim was diagnosed as having a 100% blockage in his left anterior descending (LAD) artery. This type of heart attack is known as a widow-maker because only 6% of people survive an event like that. Doctors placed a stent in the artery, and Tim began his road to recovery.

Back in South Hill, Tim completed 36 sessions of cardiac rehab over three months, going three times a week. At first, he was afraid to do anything the least bit strenuous. Yet each week, his therapists pushed him to work harder. About midway through, Tim felt confident enough to do most anything he wanted.

“This was my testing ground, where I could safely work out under the supervision of the staff while my heart rate and blood pressure were monitored,” Tim explained. “The staff are enthusiastic and supportive. They have a genuine concern for my recovery.”

Not again!

In 2021, Tim again experienced chest pain and tingling in his arm — but this time he knew what it was and sought immediate medical attention. His cardiologist conducted a stress test and ordered imaging. It turned out a second artery was 99% blocked. He has collateral vessels that have opened on their own to keep the blood flowing. But back to cardiac rehab he went.

“We have a great facility at VCU Health CMH,” he said. “You don’t have to seek out rehab in a big city. The staff here is outstanding.”

Now Tim takes daily walks. He’s lost about 30 pounds and feels good.

“My wife and I enjoy the outdoors. I hunt rabbits and spend time on the farm with my dogs. We have a son who plays football at Hampden-Sydney who is about to graduate from college. We have a daughter who is getting married in a year. I am motivated to stay healthy so I can experience being a grandfather someday.”