If you have been diagnosed with heart disease, you doubtless have already been told that you will need to make some changes in your lifestyle to improve your health and well-being. Whether that diagnosis came by way of your routine annual health exam or by means of a cardiac event, cardiac rehabilitation may be your best bet for making those changes quickly and, most importantly, effectively. Here, we will explain what cardiac rehab is and how it can benefit individuals who have been diagnosed with heart disease.
What is Cardiac Rehab?
Cardiac rehab is a comprehensive, medically supervised program designed to improve the health and well-being of cardiac patients. It is used to help people recover from cardiac events or heart-related medical procedures and reduce their risk of further heart-related problems in the future. It can also be used to aid in preventing such events and procedures by helping patients control cardiac symptoms and decrease cardiac risk factors.
In the typical cardiac rehabilitation program, patients are carefully evaluated to determine their current health status and level of exercise tolerance. That information is then used by the medical staff to tailor rehabilitation plans to meet their specific needs and limitations.
Cardiac rehabilitation plans typically consist of medically monitored physical therapy and progressive exercise, as well as intensive counseling to educate patients about their condition and how to manage it. This generally includes nutritional counseling to aid patients in formulating and following a heart-healthy diet, weight-loss counseling to help them reach and or maintain a healthy body weight, lifestyle coaching to help them eliminate harmful habits, stress management counseling and support to aid patients in handling the emotional impact of their diagnosis, addressing issues like depression and anxiety.
Who Can Benefit?
Most anyone with a heart-related condition can benefit from cardiac rehab. Health professionals typically strongly suggest participation for patients who have had a heart attack, heart surgery, such as a bypass procedure or valve replacement, or other interventions, like angioplasty, stenting, or implantation of medical devices, such as a pacemaker or an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). Patients who have heart conditions, such as coronary artery disease, angina or congestive heart failure are often referred to cardiac rehab as well, and people who have hypertension, peripheral artery disease or have been diagnosed with multiple cardiac risk factors can benefit greatly from these programs.
What Are the Benefits of Cardiac Rehabilitation?
The potential benefits of cardiac rehabilitation include stronger, healthier cardiovascular function, reduced symptoms and complications from heart disease and reduction of risk factors that can contribute to heart disease progression. Cardiac patients who take advantage of these programs often gain energy, confidence and a greater sense of well-being as they learn how to manage their disease and its symptoms and improve their health status and fitness levels. In fact, many patients are in better health after cardiac rehab than they have been in years, with increased strength, endurance, flexibility and balance, a healthier body weight, lower blood pressure and better cholesterol profiles – results that illustrate clearly why you should consider cardiac rehab if you have been diagnosed with heart disease.