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Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised program to help heart patients recover quickly and improve their overall physical, mental and social functioning. The goal is to stabilize, slow or even reverse the progression of cardiovascular disease, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease, another cardiac event or death. Cardiac rehabilitation programs include:
• Counseling so the patient can understand and manage the disease process
• Beginning an exercise program
• Counseling on nutrition
• Helping the patient modify risk factors such as high blood pressure, smoking, high blood cholesterol, physical inactivity, obesity and diabetes.
• Providing vocational guidance to enable the patient to return to work
• Supplying information on physical limitations
• Lending emotional support
• Counseling on appropriate use of prescribed medications
The long-term success of any secondary prevention program is directly related to patient compliance. Evidence suggests that improving the plasma lipid and lipoprotein profile with diet, exercise and drug therapy benefits patients. And those who quit smoking significantly reduce their risks of another heart attack, sudden death, stroke and total mortality compared with those who continue to smoke.
When supervised by a physician, cardiac rehabilitation is helpful to patients with congestive heart failure, angina pectoris (chest pain due to clogged heart arteries), recent heart attack, coronary artery bypass graft surgery or PTCA (balloon angioplasty) or who've had a pacemaker implanted, are heart transplant candidates or recipients, or have stable chronic heart failure, peripheral arterial disease with claudication, or other forms of cardiovascular disease. It also applies to patients with congenital cardiovascular disease, who may or may not have had surgery. An exercise program is normally included, but rehabilitation usually is tailored to each patient's needs. Exercise may be very structured, including ECG monitoring, or less structured, with infrequent monitoring. It depends upon the patient's specific heart problem and other health problems.
Combining all aspects of cardiovascular rehabilitation in appropriate patients improves functional capacity and quality of life, reduces risk factors and may create a sense of well-being and optimism about the future.
The Cardiac Rehabilitation Team
Cardiac rehab involves a long-term commitment from the patient and a team of health care providers.
The cardiac rehab team may include doctors (such as a family doctor, a heart specialist, and a surgeon), nurses, exercise specialists, physical and occupational therapists, dietitians or nutritionists, and psychologists or other mental health specialists. In some cases, a case manager will help track the patient's care.
Working with the team is an important part of cardiac rehab. The patient should share questions and concerns with the team. This will help the patient reach his or her goals.
For more information on Cardiac Rehabilitation at Huntsville Memorial Hospital, call (936) 291-4594.
Copyright 2009. Huntsville Memorial Hospital.