07 Apr Why you should follow Cardiac Rehabilitation Program
Cardiac rehabilitation (CR), or “cardiac rehab,” is a multifaceted, medically supervised program proven to improve heart health and outcomes in people with certain types of cardiovascular disease. CR revolves around three major components: an individualized exercise and training program, education on topics related to heart health, and stress reduction.
CR is currently recommended for the following diagnoses: angina (chest pain); heart attack with or without angioplasty or bypass surgery; heart failure with reduced ejection fraction; and heart surgery including heart valve procedures or heart or heart/lung transplant.
Benefits of cardiac rehabilitation
The benefits of CR are well supported by long-standing evidence that showed a 20% reduction in heart-related death and illness, and a 28% lower risk for hospital admissions. The risk of nonfatal strokes, heart attacks, and worsening of heart failure symptoms were also reduced. Improvements in quality of life, the ability to carry out day-to-day activities, and measures of depression and anxiety have also been established.
Patient satisfaction with CR services is consistently high. And most patients trace positive lifestyle changes to their participation in a CR program.
What should I expect from CR?
CR is an outpatient program that usually takes place in a medical center or hospital-based facility. It typically includes up to 36 sessions over a three-month period. There is a clear benefit for consistent participation in a CR program: research has shown that people attending at least 25 sessions seem to derive clinically significant benefit compared to those who attended fewer than 25 sessions.
The exercise test will help in the planning of your exercise program
Exercise is performed under monitored conditions where your heart rhythm and blood pressure are regularly checked. In addition to supervised exercise, these sessions also include education about heart-healthy lifestyle changes and counseling to relieve stress and anxiety. It is known that depression is often diagnosed following a heart attack and usually negatively impacts prognosis; data have shown that CR participation helps in diagnosis of depression and can help improve symptoms of depression.
During the intake visit, you will meet the entire program staff
This includes a nurse, a physical therapist or exercise physiologist, and a dietitian or nutritionist. Together, your team will develop an individualized treatment plan, which provides a baseline risk assessment and clear, specific exercise, lifestyle, and educational objectives (such as quitting smoking or controlling anxiety). If necessary, your CR team may suggest additional assessments or referrals, for example, to a sleep apnea specialist or mental health professional.
You’ll participate in two to three sessions per week, and your program will be re-evaluated and adjusted as needed every month. For example, your exercise threshold may be increased, or your diet recommendations may be adjusted to include less carbohydrates.
During your final visit, your team will assess your functional improvement, weight loss, smoking status, and improvements in your cholesterol levels and HbA1c (a measure of blood sugar), if you have diabetes. CR participants are strongly encouraged to continue their exercise routine and new lifestyle habits on their own after “graduating” out of the CR program.