SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - They've been given a second chance at life after devastating heart problems. A group of cardiac patients get together several times a week to work out and have fun. Some of them are in their 90s!
Created in 1975, the Cardiac Treatment Center at Scripps Health is one of the oldest health programs in San Diego County.
"I had a major heart attack and dropped in the street," patient Laverne Shaw said.
At 88 years young, Laverne's heart problems started in the 1970s. That's when she figured out if you want your heart to keep on pumping, the rest of your body's muscles have to do the same.
Laverne's husband of 69 years died less than a month ago, but her sense of humor still fills a sweaty workout room that's dripping with personality.
"There are a lot of personalities at this place, I can tell you that," patient Don Martin said.
Seven years ago, one of Don's arteries was 98 percent blocked. He's been on the treadmill making friends ever since.
"There is a lot of socialization that goes on here, and I think that keeps us as healthy as the machines from time to time," he said.
Along with yoga and lots of exercise, Dr. Matthew Lucks says this program staves off depression and helps patients live longer.
"Patients seem to feel better, and there's a secret here that most people don't realize, which is that a lot of the patients, after they've had an event, they want to go out and exercise but they don't know how safe it is," Lucks said.
Many of the patients suffered heart attacks decades ago, and medically supervised workouts give them confidence to push themselves without pushing too far.
"I'm not a sitter and do-nothing," Laverne said.
With 21 grandkids and great-grandkids, Laverne has a lot to live for. She says her heart takes a lickin', but keeps on tickin', so who has time to die?
"I'm not going. It's too much trouble, too expensive and so I'm just going to stay forever," she joked.
After a patient suffers a heart event, Medicare will pay for them to enroll in the program for the first three months. After that, the cost is $65 a month at Scripps La Jolla.
Along with yoga, the Scripps Cardiac Treatment Center also offers other specialized exercise programs such as Tai Chi.