You can’t miss all the pink and red hearts in retail stores this time of year to promote Valentine’s Day. What better time to focus on your heart health than in February!
While any regular exercise is beneficial to our overall health, what do you do when your health takes a less than desirable turn? The American Heart Association (AHA) notes that those suffering from cardiovascular disease benefit greatly from cardiac rehabilitation, which can reduce mortality by over 50 percent.
Cardiac rehab is an evidence-based approach to improving heart health by reducing cardiovascular risk factors. The focus is on modifiable risk factors, or those things we can control, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, diet, weight, stress, smoking or other drug use, and activity.
In addition to lowering risk, benefits include improved eating habits and potential weight loss as well as resuming activities you may have stopped, including returning to work. In the cardiac rehab program at Lutheran Medical Center, we encourage patients to follow a heart-healthy diet, or plant-based diet, and offer many recipes and nutrition coaching to support their success. Studies show that a plant-based diet can help reverse coronary artery disease.
Cardiac rehab is recommended by cardiologists for a variety of reasons. These include previous heart attack, coronary angioplasty or stenting within the last 12 months, stable angina, chronic stable heart failure, or post open-heart surgery for coronary heart disease or valvular heart disease, or heart transplant.
Cardiac rehab offers training, monitoring and education by skilled medical professionals – nurses, exercise physiologists, physical therapists and dieticians. Your blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate before, during and after exercise will be checked. You and your family will also be offered education on your medical condition, medications and nutritional needs, hands-only CPR, risk factor modification, and stress management.
One size does not fit all. Cardiac rehab programs are personalized. It is important to recover after heart surgery or a heart attack before starting cardiac rehab. Your doctor will advise you when it is safe to start and provide you with a required referral.
Typically, cardiac rehab is covered by insurance and will include:
• One hour of exercise three times a week, while wearing a telemetry monitor.
• Group classes, which include a warm-up, cardio exercise, weights and a cool down.
• Patients are encouraged to complete 20 minutes on two different pieces of equipment, such as recumbent bike, seated elliptical, arm bike, spin bike, elliptical or treadmill.
• Staff will also help guide our patients in a home exercise schedule.
This February and beyond, focus on improving your heart health and consider joining a local cardiac rehab program.
Kelly Royster is the Chest Pain Coordinator at Lutheran Medical Center.