Health Matters: Cardiac Rehab

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More than 700,000 Americans die from heart disease every year. According to health experts, bed rest can only go so far in helping patients recover from heart attack or open-heart surgery. In this Health Matters, we investigate the importance of rehabilitation for cardiac patients.

For Suzanne Hill, surviving a heart attack was just the first step toward recovering from heart disease. Soon after, she was enrolled in a cardiac rehabilitation program to strengthen her for the battle ahead.

“When you’ve had a heart attack and you start exercising it’s really scary, cause you don’t know what you’re heart rate’s doing in there. I’m monitored and she comes and takes my blood pressure three or four times during my exercise.”

Exercise physiologists say that participation in a rehabilitation program following a cardiac event is a crucial part of each patient’s recovery.

“They’re not sure how to start back their daily activities and they want to build up their confidence and so this program’s important in letting them know that they can exercise safely and that they can do activities at home safely.”

In addition to increasing their exercise capacity, patients are shown how to take control of their heart health.

“It’s also to help them learn about their risk factors that they had for cardiovascular disease and how they can decrease those risk factors by changing their lifestyle. Perhaps their eating habits, their exercise behaviors and making sure they learn about the medications they’re taking.”

Suzanne is passionate about the powerful effect this program has had on her recovery.

“It’s wonderful, it really is. This is such a good program. Please, please exercise, because if you do have a heart attack, that probably is what’s going to save your life.”

With the guidance of her rehabilitation therapist, Suzanne is making great strides toward enjoying a healthier lifestyle for years to come.

The average cardiac patient spends approximately 6-12 weeks in rehabilitation at Capital Regional Medical Center, following which they are encouraged to maintain a heart healthy diet and incorporate frequent exercise into their routine.

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