Put Your Heart Into Cardiac Rehab

Put Your Heart Into Cardiac Rehab

While cardiac rehabilitation is good for your heart and your overall health, fewer than 20 percent of those who are eligible take advantage of this important healing tool.

“After a cardiac-related event, you need support to recover and make important lifestyle changes,” said Barbara Schwentor, MA, OTR/L, Manager of Cardiac/Pulmonary Rehab at Holland Hospital. “Cardiac rehab offers both life-enhancing and lifesaving benefits, yet only 1 in 4 Medicare recipients participate.”

So if you’ve experienced a heart attack, had heart surgery or have been diagnosed with a cardiovascular condition like heart failure, why should you jump on the cardiac rehab bandwagon? Before we get into the benefits, let’s go over some basics.

What is cardiac rehab?

Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised program designed to help heart patients learn ways to take control of their lifestyle and improve their cardiovascular health. Staffed by nurses, exercise physiologists, dietitians, social workers and other medical specialists, program components often include:

  • Carefully supervised and individualized exercise programming and coaching
  • Instruction and practice in self-monitoring for symptoms during exercise and daily activities
  • Lifestyle education and support for managing blood pressure, establishing a healthy diet, lowering stress and modifying other cardiac health risks
  • Opportunities to meet and share with others who are also working toward improved cardiovascular health

Who should consider cardiac rehab?

Anybody who’s had a significant heart problem, such as a heart attack, heart failure or heart surgery, can benefit from cardiac rehab. Participation in cardiac rehabilitation fosters heart-healthy habits and can also help prevent another cardiac event from happening down the road.

Despite the perks, women, older adults and non-whites are less likely to begin or complete a cardiac rehabilitation program. “Raising awareness of the value of cardiac rehab, increasing referrals of eligible candidates and decreasing any system or personal barriers to participation are essential to ensuring greater patient participation,” Schwentor added.

Benefits You Can Take to Heart

When it comes to your short- and long-term wellness, cardiac rehab offers a range of benefits, such as:

  • Inspiring a healthier lifestyle that includes regular exercise, eating right, quitting smoking and lowering stress.
  • Boosting your energy and strength, helping make activities of daily living easier (e.g., grocery shopping, climbing stairs).
  • Strengthening your heart, mind and body after a heart attack.
  • Lifting your spirits. Cardiac rehab can help participants combat mood disorders like anxiety and depression.
  • Alleviating angina (chest pain) and other cardiovascular symptoms.
  • Encouraging adherence to taking medicines that can lower the risk for future heart problems.
  • Decreasing risk of death from any cause, as well as from cardiac-related causes. Cardiac rehab reduces risk of all-cause mortality by 27% and cardiac mortality by 31%.
  • Lowering your chances for hospital readmission.

“Along with cardiac rehab, Holland Hospital also offers patients who’ve been discharged from the hospital with heart failure or another cardiac condition access to telehealth in-home monitoring,” said Ronnie Richards, RN, Manager, Holland Hospital Telehealth Program. “Telehealth is convenient, provides added peace of mind, and reduces the likelihood you’ll have to return to the hospital for symptom management.”

A simple-to-use device, the telehealth monitor collects patient vital signs, such as blood pressure, pulse oximetry, heart rate and weight, and then transmits data to Holland Hospital’s telehealth team. If changes in health status warrant intervention, the team communicates with the patient’s physician to coordinate follow-up care.

For more on Holland Hospital’s Telehealth Program, call (616) 394-3684. To learn more about Holland Hospital Cardiac Rehabilitation, talk to your doctor or call (616) 394-3398.

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  • Ronnie Richards

    Ronnie Richards

    Ronnie Richards, Supervising Nurse Coordinator. Ronnie joined Holland Hospital Home Health Services in 2011. She helped launch our new telehealth program in 2017 and remains as the program coordinator. She is the 2018 recipient of the Spirit of Caring Award from the Michigan Home Care & Hospice Association. Ronnie’s previously worked as a certified emergency nurse in our Holland Hospital emergency department.

    Ronnie Richards

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