Did you know that February 14-20, 2016 is Cardiac Rehabilitation Week? In honor of this week, we wanted to raise awareness about the importance, purpose and health benefits cardiac rehabilitation can provide. Continue reading to learn more about what cardiac rehabilitation is, what diseases it can treat, who benefits from it and what patients can expect during treatment.
Who Benefits Most from Cardiac Rehabilitation?
Patients of any age being treated for a broad range of heart conditions can benefit from cardiac rehabilitation! These conditions may include a heart attack, coronary bypass or valve surgery, coronary intervention such as a stent, balloon, pacemaker or ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator). Cardiac rehab can also help patients who have a long history of heart disease in their family or who have been diagnosed with heart failure, heart disease, coronary artery disease and chronic chest pain.
What is Cardiac Rehabilitation?
Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised extended treatment plan. The overall goal is to enhance the heart health of patients. Rehabilitation plans can consist of:
- Education- learn more and better understand their new heart condition
- Prevention- discover how to prevent future heart problems
- Maintenance- determine how to eat and exercise with the constraints of their new condition
The programs are a coordinated care effort and include many specialists who work with your primary care or family doctor including:
- occupational therapists
- exercise specialists
- medical social workers
Why is Cardiac Rehabilitation Important?
When an individual has heart disease or experienced a life threatening cardiac episode, they are more likely to suffer another heart attack, arrhythmia or episode. Many patients are required to make fairly dramatic lifestyle changes. Cardiac rehab is implemented to help provide a strong network of health professionals and a support system for them to utilize and grow with during their recovery and as they implement their new lifestyle.
What Should Patients Expect During Cardiac Rehabilitation?
Cardiac rehabilitation is provided to patients when they are in the hospital or rehab facility. Nurses and doctors continually plan every aspect of the day, from what the patient eats, to how much they exercise and everything in between. For this reason, it is important for rehabilitation at home to start very soon after being discharged. These healthy lifestyle choices need to continue and smoothly transition into a patient’s normal routine because they will no longer have the constant monitoring by health care professionals.
One major component of at home cardiac rehabilitation is patient education. Teaching the patient about the potential implications of their heart condition can help reduce the risk of future problems. They will also learn how to deal with additional stress as they become accustomed to their heart-healthy lifestyle and cope with their uncertainties about the disease. Some of the education portions of the program are done through group counseling to provide an additional support system for patients who are going through similar circumstances and life changes.
The second major component is exercise training. This element includes coaching patients on the best practices for improving strength and endurance after a cardiac episode or diagnosis. The exercise regimens are all customized for each patient's needs, abilities, normal level of activity and activities of interest. These customized plans allow patients to work up to their desired fitness level in a safe, healthy and controlled way.
Wondering How to Prevent Heart Disease?
Heart disease and cardiac episodes can be preventable with a few simple lifestyle changes. First, we recommend you have a yearly physical with your doctor. This is an excellent opportunity to check for any present risk factors and allows your physician to take action before a small problem turns into something more serious. Make sure you are getting enough sleep at night and enough water in your diet; these two factors can each decrease an adult’s risk of heart attacks. Don’t forget to get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily! Even if it is just a walk over the lunch hour; 30 minutes of moderate activity most days a week is enough to substantially decrease the risk of heart disease. These are just a few examples; find additional simple lifestyle changes to help prevent heart attacks and heart disease here!
Cardiac Rehabilitation with UnityPoint at Home
The expert chronic care team at UnityPoint at Home has specially trained individuals who are dedicated to treating patients with heart diseases and conditions. They understand that the period after having a heart attack or being diagnosed with a heart condition can be stressful, and filled with uncertainty and unanswered questions. Learn more about cardiac rehabilitation with UnityPoint at Home or contact your UnityPoint Health provider to find out about options in your area!
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