Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation, Preventive Cardiology in the Tomsich Family Department of Cardiovascular Medicine
Specialties: exercise physiology, cardiac rehabilitation, graded exercise testing
Hello. I’m Dr. Gordon Blackburn, Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation at the Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute. Today, I’m going to explain cardiac rehabilitation – what it is and who can benefit from it.
Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically directed exercise and lifestyle modification program to help patients recover as fully as possible following any type of cardiac event, such as a heart attack, bypass, coronary stenting or valve surgery.
The goals of cardiac rehab are to optimize the quality and quantity of your live by improving your overall heart health, preventing your condition from worsening and helping you to make the best lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of future cardiovascular problems.
Cardiac rehabilitation begins in the hospital, with preliminary education, and continues throughout recovery. Shortly following a patient’s discharge from the hospital, a second phase begins. Here, patients meet with the Cardiac Rehab Team’s physicians, exercise specialists, registered nurses and dietitians. They work with you and your family to tailor a personalized plan to decrease your risks and help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Personal plans may include exercise, cholesterol and blood pressure management, dietary advice, smoking cessation, weight loss, diabetes management and emotional support.
As part of the program, activity classes are offered that are designed to help you return to your daily activities, your job and hobbies. Your program is tailored to your personal needs, abilities and interests. Weekly patient and family education programs are provided on topics including nutrition, risk factors for heart disease, cardiac anatomy and emotional challenges that often accompany heart disease. How to handle stress and depression are also topics of emphasis.
Typically, this second phase of rehab lasts anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Generally the longer patients continue rehab, the more they benefit. This is because rehab is truly about making a lifestyle change. And changing habits, for real, takes time.
To make changes really stick, or to provide a refresher course when needed, a third phase of rehab, or a life-long program, is also available for patients after the second phase and for patients who are more than a year along in their recovery. Such refreshers are often needed when another change in life, like a move, retirement or the wedding of a child, comes along to throw you off track.
Throughout all phases of cardiac rehab, Cleveland Clinic’s rehab staff works closely with you and your primary care physician or cardiologist. The team focuses on addressing all of your risk factors and helping you reach your targeted goals. Your progress is tracked and shared with your doctor.
For patients interested in cardiac rehab, your doctor’s approval is all that you need to begin. Cardiac rehab is covered by most insurance companies, and help is available to inquire about coverage.
If you recently suffered any type of cardiac event and think that you may benefit from cardiac rehab, talk to your physician about whether it is right for you.
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