Avera Medical Minute: Sioux Falls man thankful for life after heart attack

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - February is heart month, and it's a good reminder you should know your health numbers, like cholesterol and blood pressure. One Sioux Falls man is encouraging others to do this and listen to your body. It's a lesson he learned personally.

Terry Konechne is retired, but you wouldn't know it.

"I'm the kind of person that needs to be kept busy," he said. "And I just enjoy it."

He works about 40 hours a week at Sioux Falls Kitchen & Bath. He was cleaning up one morning in October and walked about 20 feet.

"All of a sudden I stop, and I use that handle on the broom because I had a really sharp pain," Konechne said. "It's kind of like a thin rope tied across your chest and just really squeezing."

Konechne ignored it and got on the phone before he had another pain.

"Maybe I could go home. I don't know if I want to do that. Maybe I should go to my family doctor and see what he can find but no, I say the heart hospital is just up the road. I think I'm going to drive up there," he said.

And it's a good thing he did.

"It wasn't about 3 or 4 minutes, and the doctor says 'Terry, you're having a heart attack,'" Konechne said.

He was given medicine to treat the heart attack and was discharged two days later. Then, his rehab started.

"Our overall goal is to help prevent further heart problems," Coleen Sprecher said, who is a registered nurse in the cardiac rehab unit in the Avera Heart Hospital.

She is one of the nurses he saw three times per week for about two to three months.

"Cardiac rehab is a great way for patients to know that they're doing the exercise, doing it correctly, and just have a little bit of help with that monitoring to make sure their body is responding appropriately," Sprecher said.

Each patient has an individualized plan. The nurses work with them and monitor their exercise.

"Terry's doing great. He's doing it on his own. That's our goal is to just design our program that they can continue to do," Sprecher said.
"Since my last day of cardio workout, I have not missed a day of exercise," Konechne said.

His workout is about an hour every other day. This is because he realizes how important paying attention to his health is now.

"He says, you should be dead. To have somebody tell you that, and you realize that you're a survivor, I'm lucky," he said.

And he's so thankful for the staff that is keeping him healthy.

Sunday is the start of cardiac rehab week. Konechne wants to remind people not to be too proud to go into the doctor if you're weary about your health.