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Strengthening Hearts and Families for 35 Years

A local man credits a special program for making sure he was there for his wife and kids, despite two heart attacks and a transplant

Inside one busy Bethesda gym, the camaraderie among the people exercising and the staff is evident. What’s not so obvious is the great impact that these relationships - sometimes a decade or more in the making - has on everyone there.

Interestingly, the people working out in this gym are actually patients, and the gym is in the Cardiac Rehabilitation Department at Suburban Hospital.


“You get much more than a safe place to exercise here,” says Peter Ross, 56, of Chevy Chase. He began cardiac rehab after two damaging heart attacks, both at age 39. He later needed a heart transplant. “The cardiac rehab staff at Suburban Hospital provide education and support for the body, mind and spirit. And the patients share and learn from each other, too. For 16 years, this combination has kept me alive and fit enough to help raise my kids.”

The program combines exercise in a closely supervised environment with heart and blood pressure monitoring, nutritional support and counseling. Now in its 35th year, a new heart patient joins the program every day. Another 200, like Ross, are active in a long-term health maintenance program.

“We developed this program well before research made the case for benefits like those Mr. Ross has seen,” says Jeanmarie Gallagher, cardiac rehabilitation manager at Suburban Hospital. “Now, there’s decades of science behind what we do, and cardiac rehab is the standard of care nationwide.”


When Ross first began the program, his children were small. Today, they’re young adults. “This program helped me hang on all these years, so I could be here for my family.”

“The staff does more than keep an eye on the rhythm of the heart,” Ross says. “They help us reclaim the rhythm of our lives.”

For more information about cardiac rehabilitation at Suburban, visit or call 301-896-2096.

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