What is cardiac rehabilitation?
Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised and individualized program designed to improve cardiovascular health in those who’ve experienced a heart attack, heart failure and angioplasty or heart surgery.
The program consists of 36, one-hour sessions that span about three months. During that time, we have the privilege of knowing our patients and of helping to make a difference in their lives.
Why cardiac rehab?
Patients often ask this question after experiencing a cardiac event and being referred to the program. The research indicates that people who complete a cardiac rehab program:
- Reduce their chance of dying by 15-28 percent
- Reduce their risk of cardiac-related death by 26-31 percent
- Reduce their risk for a recurrent heart attack by 25 percent
- Experience a 95 percent three-year survival rate vs a 64 percent for those who do not participate
Yet many patients are still skeptical. They often ask the following questions: “How does this apply to me?” or “I am active at home; do I really need this?” In order to answer these questions, we must identify the three Ps:
- Patient perspective: We need to understand the patient’s overall health history, strengths and challenges. We aim to identify their personal risk factors, which can include:
- Tobacco use
- Unhealthy cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure
- Excess weight
- Lack of physical activity
- Stress and strong emotion
- Patient physical ability, educational needs and emotional health: What changes can patients make to reduce the impact of their specific risk factors? One technique used is to identify small changes that the patient can achieve easily. Positive feedback and support every step of way can lead to success.
- Patient “quality of life” definition: What are the patients’ goals? What are their reasons for the change? What motivates them? Once we identify the best way to help our patients, we develop a very specific exercise and education plan to align with their specific risk factors to achieve their personal goals. The plan progress is monitored and updated monthly. The medical director reviews each daily session sheet and meets with each patient every 30 days.
Cardiac rehab approaches each program with the mindset that “Together Everyone Achieves More (TEAM).” While we provide guidance, we encourage our patients to actively participate in the care process. We believe by taking ownership of their own recovery journey, it helps prevent another heart event and improves their quality of life moving forward, even after our patients graduate from our program. I am blessed to be a part of this TEAM!
Information provided by Christine K. Prose, RN, Certified Exercise Specialist.