February is American Heart Month. 1.1 millionpeople suffer a heart attack each year in the United States; 660,000 are new events and 450,000 are recurrences. When you suffer from a heart attack, heart disease or are recovering from heart surgery, cardiac rehab is often part of your recovery. Cardiac rehab is a personalized exercise and educational program designed to help you return to a normal, active lifestyle, while reducing your risk for future heart problems.
Cardiac Rehab is divided into phases one through four.
- Phase 1 is an educational phase that occurs during your hospital stay. You learn about your heart condition, the importance of heart-healthy living and what to expect during the remaining phases of cardiac rehab.
- Phase 2 ideally begins within three weeks of discharge and lasts four to 12 weeks. It includes education on nutrition and risk factor modification. An exercise regimen is introduced to include warm ups with light dumbbells and an aerobic component using a treadmill, recumbent bike or another of your choice. During each session, your blood pressure and EKG are monitored. Phase 2 is typically offered in an outpatient hospital environment and is covered by most insurances.
- Phase 3 is a more exercise intensive phase consisting of supervised exercise designed to further increase and maintain ongoing physical fitness. It is geared and individually tailored toward aerobic exercise, strength training and the use of self-monitoring techniques to assess levels of activity. Trained therapists are available to assist with blood pressure and heart rate measurements, and to monitor any negative changes that may occur. Phase 3 is offered by physical therapists and exercise specialists in outpatient rehab centers. A physician referral is required to participate. It is not covered by insurance and is a self-pay program.
· Phase 4 is the maintenance phase. It is performed independently for long-term conditioning. Independent exercise and conditioning is essential to maintaining and preventing possible future cardiac problems. While Phase 4 is an independent maintenance phase, your therapist is available to help make changes to your current exercise routine to help you achieve physical fitness and wellness.
Continued participation in Cardiac Rehab for life, specifically Phases 3 and 4, will provide you with the education and tools to have healthier blood pressure and cholesterol levels, better tolerance for your daily activities and hobbies, implement healthy habits, stay at a healthy weight, control stress, make healthy food choices, medication management and above all…improved survival rates!
So, if you have had a heart attack, open-heart surgery, stents or controlled angina, ask your doctor about starting a cardiac rehab program today!