Dealing with heart disease is no joke! As if having a chronic condition wasn’t enough on its own– suffering from heart disease can be detrimental to one’s mental health, social life, physical endurance, and self-esteem. Luckily, there is a way to combat that. Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) is an outpatient program that works to better the lives of people with cardiovascular diseases through a comprehensive, encouraging, and educational approach.
At the heart of every CR program is an aerobic exercise regime set in a traditional gym. The regime functions at a pace and intensity that is of no risk to the patient, but will help them stop and even reverse the negative side effects that impact their day-to-day lives the most, such as fatigue and chest pain.
In addition to the exercise regime, other very important components of CR include nutrition counseling, psychological support, stress management, tobacco cessation therapy, group activities, and educational courses on topics such as blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol.
The educational portion of the rehabilitation program is usually held out of a hospital or physician’s office. In a traditional program, the patient will attend 2 to 3 one-hour sessions per week that will ultimately total up to 36 hours. For those in need of a more dramatic intervention, the intensity and length of CR programs can be made more rigorous on a patient-by-patient basis. High-intensity programs offer a more in-depth experience with nutrition counseling, stress management practice, group support, and exercise training. Because of its rigorous nature, it requires a longer time commitment, usually up to 72 hours of participation.
Why You Should Participate
Medical professionals strongly recommend that individuals with cardiovascular disease enroll in a CR program, especially if they have one or more of the following conditions: any type of myocardial infarction (previous heart attack), acute coronary syndrome, angina (chest pain or pressure), heart failure, and recent coronary artery stent placement, coronary artery bypass graft surgery, cardiac valve surgery, or heart transplant.
Going through a full cardiac rehabilitation program has been scientifically proven to reduce the risk of hospital readmission and cardiovascular death by 25% to 50%. They improve exercise capacity, facilitate body fat loss, lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels, reduce feelings of depression and anxiety, and improve each patient’s overall quality of life.
Specialized programs can be a pricier option, however, Medicare and most other commercial health insurers provide CR coverage.
How It Works
Cardiac rehabilitation works so well because it addresses the underlying causes of heart diseases, such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose levels by lowering inflammation, relaxing blood vessels, and lessening the risk of blood clots.
If you’re interested in participating in a CR program, contact your primary health care physician to discuss getting started.
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