Cardiac Rehabilitation: Do Your Part for Your Heart
If you’ve had heart surgery or any type of heart-related disease or procedure, cardiac rehabilitation is a key factor in your recovery. This week has been designated National Cardiac Rehabilitation Week by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) to focus national attention on cardiac rehabilitation’s important role in reducing the potentially devastating effects of heart disease.
For anyone who has experienced a cardiac event, the road to recovery isn’t complete at hospital discharge. Your doctor may recommend cardiac rehabilitation as part of your ongoing wellness program.
WHAT IS REHABILITATION FOR THE HEART?
Rehabilitation, or rehab for short, is a supervised program of exercise and health education aimed at restoring function or mobility. When your heart sustains damage, cardiac rehab is recommended for strengthening, improvement in general wellness, and reduction of the risk of future cardiac events or problems.
Cardiac rehab programs are designed to meet patients’ needs and provide education on heart-healthy lifestyle choices. This includes your doctor’s instructions regarding the proper use of heart medications and information on how to eat a heart-healthy diet and exercise safely. During cardiac rehab, therapist-supervised exercise training reduces fears patients may have about doing physical activities after a cardiac event.
WHAT DOES A CARDIAC REHAB PROGRAM INCLUDE?
How to exercise safely and regularly
Lifestyle education, including how to adopt a heart-healthy diet
Management of risk factors for heart conditions
Supportive counseling and improved emotional wellness
BENEFITS OF CARDIAC REHAB
Weight loss and healthy weight management
Reduction in chest pain or other symptoms
Possible reduced need for heart medication
Management of conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure
Decreased chance of rehospitalization for heart problems
Elimination of bad habits such as smoking
Improved health-related quality of life
WHY IS CARDIAC REHAB IMPORTANT?
The benefits of cardiac rehab are multifold and include minimizing future risks. Cardiac rehab is provided in an outpatient clinic or in a hospital rehab center. The cardiac rehab team includes doctors, nurses, exercise specialists, physical and occupational therapists, and dieticians or nutritionists. Before beginning the rehab program, this team will take a medical history, conduct a thorough physical exam, and perform tests.
These tests may include an electrocardiogram (EKG), cardiac imaging tests, and a treadmill or stationary bike exercise test. Tests that measure cholesterol and blood sugar levels may also be included. This comprehensive screening process can detect potential health issues early, which may be a potential life-saver.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, individuals who attend 36 sessions of cardiac rehab have a 47% lower risk of a fatal cardiac event and a 31% lower risk of heart attack than those who attend on one rehab session.
Would you like to know more about how you can do your part for your heart? The American College of Cardiology invites you to click this link to view a video that will provide more information on the importance of cardiac rehab: