Cardiac Rehabilitation - definition and programs

Cardiac Rehabilitation - definition and programs

What is Cardiac Rehabilitation and Definition

Cardiac Rehabilitation - planned activities, course of recovery, or structured program for improving cardiovascular health after HEART ATTACK, CORONARY ARTERY BYPASS GRAFT (CABG), HEART TRANSPLANTATION, and other major cardiovascular events or operations. Many people, after such events, need to make significant lifestyle changes. A structured cardiac rehabilitation program helps people to define their needs and goals and establish realistic steps to move progressively toward meeting them. Most people benefit from assistance with meal planning and nutrition, exercise, and SMOKING CESSATION. Structured programs also offer social interaction with other people who have similar experiences, and may include organized SUPPORT GROUPS for people to share their feelings, perceptions, and suggestions.

Cardiac Rehabilitation Programs

Many factors influence a person’s ability to participate in physical activity. Many hospitals and medical centers offer physician-supervised cardiac rehabilitation programs that feature defined yet individualized activities, some of which may take place at a facility such as a rehabilitation center and others designed for the person to do at home. Some medically supervised cardiac rehabilitation programs incorporate ambulatory ELECTROCARDIOGRAM (ECG) so people can use the telephone to send their ECG readings to cardiologists who can then determine whether physical exercise is within therapeutic range and provide assurance that the HEART is functioning satisfactorily.

Programs such as those health clubs and organizations such as the YMCA offer are less comprehensive and not under a physician’s direction. They primarily provide classes in aerobic and resistance exercises as well as access to facilities and equipment. A nutritional counselor separately provides dietary guidance including instruction for WEIGHT LOSS AND WEIGHT MANAGEMENT. People who have health conditions other than cardiovascular, such as DIABETES or chronic OSTEOARTHRITIS, may need additional consultations or professional guidance to accommodate all of their health needs.

Current medical practice emphasizes a return to regular activities as quickly as possible following heart attack or major heart surgery. This reduces the risk of BLOOD clots that can cause STROKE, another heart attack, or PULMONARY EMBOLISM (blood clot in the LUNG). It also expedites HEALING and counters the emotional swings, especially DEPRESSION and anxiety, that are common with serious CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE (CVD). Research studies have conclusively demonstrated that people who engage in cardiac rehabilitation and maintain heart-healthy lifestyle changes are much less likely to experience additional cardiovascular events and may even halt or reverse cardiovascular conditions such as ATHEROSCLEROSIS and HYPERTENSION (high BLOOD PRESSURE).

Benefits of Cardiac Rehabilitation
decreased CHOLESTEROL BLOOD LEVELS faster return to work and other activities
fewer cardiovascular symptoms improved AEROBIC FITNESS
improved ATHEROSCLEROSIS improved INSULIN sensitivity
improved nutritious eating habits improved QUALITY OF LIFE
lowered BLOOD PRESSURE reduced postoperative discomfort
reduced risk of health problems related to smoking stress reduction

Heart attack or major heart surgery is a significant trauma for an individual to experience, with both physical and emotional components. Many people are fearful about the level of physical activity their bodies, and especially hearts, can tolerate. Some people respond with reluctance to do anything and others leap into action with a fervor that would challenge even someone in peak cardiovascular function. Neither extreme is healthy and can result in further health problems. A person who has not been physically active for years to decades often benefits from the advice and suggestions of a health expert who can help determine an appropriate entry point for returning to an active lifestyle.

Recent studies affirm that cardiac rehabilitation has therapeutic value for people who have chronic cardiovascular conditions such as congestive HEART FAILURE, improving symptoms and QUALITY OF LIFE. Many people will begin cardiac rehabilitation before leaving the hospital after treatment or surgery, starting with an exercise STRESS TEST to determine cardiopulmonary capacity, and continue in a structured way for 3 to 6 months. Under ideal circumstances the activities of rehabilitation, including EATING HABITS and nutrition, become elements of routine daily living and foster a lifestyle that supports cardiovascular health.


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