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Cardiac Rehabilitation, Take it Slow and Easy

Heart Health > > Cardiac Rehabilitation, Take it Slow and Easy

If you or someone you love has suffered a heart attack, you are probably keenly aware of the need for a comprehensive rehabilitation program that will help to make the body and heart stronger and healthier.

Cardiac rehabilitation combines exercise, education, and behavior modification in order to improve the physical and emotional condition of heart disease patients.

Patients who can benefit most from a cardiac rehabilitation program are those that have suffered or do suffer from:

• a heart attack
• bypass or angioplasty surgery
• angina
• congestive heart failure
• a heart transplant

Cardiac rehabilitation can help these patients to control the symptoms of their conditions, improve exercise tolerance and boost their overall emotional health. When people are aware that they are actively seeking better health, they begin to feel healthier and therefore they are more likely to exercise and eat right.

Because of the nature of cardiac conditions, any cardiac rehabilitation program should be a product of planning in which a team of specialized doctors and health is involved. The patient and caregivers should also play a role in developing a cardiac rehabilitation program that fits.

The team of healthcare providers and social workers might include a:

• dietician or nutritionist
• exercise physiologist
• job counselor
• physical therapist
• social worker
• psychologist

Often the plan will be set in place while a heart patient is still hospitalized. This makes it easier to coordinate services. The rehabilitation program will continue after the patient is discharged for six to 12 months. Rehabilitation programs vary based on an individual’s overall health, heart problem and other related needs.

Take it Slow and Steady

An exercise program for a heart patient usually starts out very slow. Range-of-motion exercises using the limbs might be all that is required to begin with. If those exercises are tolerated, the patient will graduate to walking and climbing stairs. Health professionals will monitor the patient’s blood pressure and evaluate symptoms each time

Unfortunately, patients are so easily monitored at home and therefore must take responsibility to follow closely his or her individual exercise plan as

Cardiac patients are encouraged to develop a low-fat, low cholesterol diet. If the patient suffers from high blood pressure, salt may be restricted as well as alcohol. Sometimes cardiac patients need to lose weight, another need upon which the dietician must focus.

Cardiac patients sometimes need counseling to deal with issues surrounding heart disease. Some lifestyle choices and emotional issues could contribute to the heart problem. Patients will learn about relaxation and talk about their fears. It is common for cardiac patients to undergo a period of depression after the onset or discovery of illness.

Smoking will significantly increase the risk of a repeat heart attack and worsen poor heart conditions significantly. Patients will be urged to stop smoking and should have the benefit of a team to offer support and help through that difficult process.

Heart Health > > Cardiac Rehabilitation, Take it Slow and Easy