Cardiac rehabilitation programs ease recovery after an event

Special to the Herald-LeaderFebruary 23, 2013 

Alison Bailey, UKHealth


For many people, recovering from or living with a cardiac event can be overwhelming. Keeping up with all the medications, doctor visits, diet and other changes can be a lot to master at one time.

A cardiac rehabilitation program following a heart attack, heart surgery, or other cardiac event works not only to help patients become more active and healthy, but also helps them develop a plan to get well and stay well. It's a program that offers patients a place to regain an active life with the safety and support of a heart care 'team.' For example, the Gill Heart Institute's cardiac rehabilitation and wellness programs offer compassionate and knowledgeable physicians, nurses, exercise physiologists and dietitians who work together to help participants achieve the best possible cardiovascular health.

Studies have concluded that cardiac rehabilitation increases a patient's chance of living by 20 to 25 percent and lowers the risk of a subsequent cardiac event. Those are some impressive stats to share with your doctor.

There are six cardiac events that qualify a patient for cardiac rehabilitation, which is covered by most insurers, Medicare, and Medicaid. They are:

■ A percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), also known as angioplasty or stent

■ Myocardial infarction (heart attack)

■ Stable angina

■ Bypass surgery

■ Heart valve surgery

■ Heart transplant

During cardiac rehabilitation orientation, a thorough evaluation helps determine health issues and limitations. Patients attending cardiac rehabilitation participate in a comprehensive lifestyle program to lower their cardiovascular risk for life.

This includes an individualized exercise program, work with a dietitian to incorporate a healthy eating strategy or weight loss program, as well as many educational classes to learn how to deal with depression, anger, or the stress that often takes place during recovery.

The Gill Heart Institute also offers a program for individuals who may not have had a cardiac event, but who want to prevent heart disease. The OH! (Optimal Health) program gives individuals the tools they need to stay healthy and fit. (A physician order is required to participate in the OH! Program).

Participants attend the program two to three days a week and work with our professional staff, which includes a cardiologist, a registered nurse, an exercise physiologist, a therapy technician and a dietitian.

Dr. Alison Bailey is the director of the Gill Heart Institute Cardiac Rehabilitation and Wellness Program.

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