What is cardiac rehabilitation?
Cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) is a medically-supervised exercise and education program for patients who have had stent procedures, a heart attack, heart surgery, peripheral vascular disease or heart failure. It is also for cardiac patients who want to slow down, reverse or manage their heart disease.
In addition to the exercise program, cardiac rehab also provides education about nutrition, medication use, emotional well-being and general lifestyle choices to help patients strengthen their hearts and lead healthier lives.
Doylestown Hospital's comprehensive Cardiac Rehab program consists of four phases to help patients manage their condition.
What the research shows
A recent study* published in the European Heart Journal suggests that heart attack survivors who participate in cardiac rehabilitation may survive longer and be less likely to have repeat hospitalizations than they would without follow-up care.
The latest study reaffirms what previous research has shown about the benefits of cardiac rehab. Studies have found that cardiac rehab decreases the chances you will die in the five years following a heart attack or bypass surgery by around 40 percent.
Studies also show people who go to cardiac rehab can lower their chance of a second heart attack or heart surgery, according to the American College of Cardiology.
"Several studies have demonstrated short and long-term benefits on multiple levels from supervised outpatient cardiac rehabilitation," said Doylestown Health cardiologist James Kmetzo, MD. "The most recent study published in the European Heart Journal solidifies these points including enhanced survival benefit and reduced repeat hospitalizations. With cardiac rehabilitation, patients are better educated on their diseases and have a firmer understanding of lifelong exercise skills."
How cardiac rehab helps
Dave Martens is clinical manager of Cardiac Rehabilitation for Doylestown Health.
"Our patients run the gamut of no prior experience to competitive athletes," said Dave. "No matter what their prior exercise experience all of our cardiac rehab patients report to us that they are so happy they did the program. Those that continue to work hard with their cardiac rehab exercise routine, heart-healthy diet, weight loss, stress management, and compliance with physician appointments and cardiac medications have an excellent chance at stopping and reducing the size of their plaque."
Plaque is the waxy substance that builds up inside the coronary arteries causing heart disease.
Having a personal "cheerleading" squad is one of the most important ways cardiac rehab helps patients. Staff helps each individual patient with personalized exercises and education tailored to their particular needs.
"Making all of these changes sounds so easy, but it's not easy creating healthy behaviors, which is why cardiac rehab is so important," said Dave. "Everyone needs input on their progress as well as coaching during their appointments. Each session my staff works hard with our patients to improve their fitness and make them understand their specific areas of concern. The extra time we spend on education motivates our patients to achieve fantastic results."
For many patients, a cardiac event or surgery is an important wake-up call. Cardiac rehab helps patients move forward and gives them more control over their health.
"With our dedicated staff and well-groomed program, many patients consider Doylestown Hospital cardiac rehabilitation as one of the 'happiest places on earth,' as they have been empowered through solid educational and strong emotional support to confront their disease head on rather than a ignoring a serious chronic disease," said Dr. Kmetzo.
* "Impact of ambulatory cardiac rehabilitation on cardiovascular outcomes: a long-term follow-up study," European Heart Journal, July 27, 2018
For more information about Doylestown Health's Cardiac Rehabilitation program, call 215-345-2390.
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About Doylestown Health's Heart & Vascular Services
Expert cardiologists and cardiac surgeons assist patients and physicians with managing risk factors for heart disease, offer advanced treatment options and provide outstanding emergency cardiac care. Doylestown Hospital’s accredited Chest Pain Center is fully prepared to treat cardiac emergencies around the clock, focusing on rapid diagnosis and effective treatment. The multidisciplinary team at the Richard A. Reif Heart Institute is dedicated to providing the highest level of quality care and patient safety.