A simple Google search will turn up plenty of tips on preventing heart attacks and heart disease, but what happens after someone has a heart attack or heart surgery? How can they improve heart function, avoid future heart attacks and get back to living life to the fullest?
Here’s a short Q&A to offer some insight into cardiac care beyond treatment.
What is “cardiac rehabilitation”?
Cardiovascular rehabilitation, a specialized type of rehab, is a medically supervised and customized program designed to improve cardiac patients’ cardiovascular health. Oftentimes, after a heart attack, heart failure, heart valve surgery, coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) or other heart procedure, patients can optimize their heart function through cardiac rehab. Physicians may prescribe patients cardiac rehabilitation while they are still in the hospital or after they’ve been discharged.
Because each patient enters cardiovascular rehab with a unique history and goals, case managers custom-tailor the experience to meet the patients’ unique needs.
What happens during a cardiac rehab session?
In Sarasota Memorial’s Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program, each patient participates in 36, one-hour sessions supervised by exercise physiologists, who work closely with the patient’s referring physician. Sessions typically include supervised exercise, help with reducing or modifying heart-disease risk factors, and tips or solutions for living a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Who needs—and is eligible for—cardiopulmonary rehab?
Cardiopulmonary rehab can benefit ayone who has experienced a heart attack within the last year, coronary artery bypass surgery, heart valve surgery, coronary angioplasty or stent placement, stable angina, chronic heart failure or heart transplant. (A physician’s prescription for cardiac rehab is required for the Sarasota Memorial Cardiopulmonary Rehab Program.)
What are some benefits of cardiac rehab?
Cardiac rehabilitation has a long list of potential benefits, including:
- Living longer and lessening chances of having another heart attack
- Slowing or stopping progression of damage to the heart’s blood vessels
- Experiencing fewer hospitalizations
- Controlling heart disease symptoms such as chest pain, fatigue or shortness of breath
- Improving confidence and well-being
- Learning relaxation techniques to help manage and reduce stress
Can cardiac rehab help patients get return to work faster after surgery?
Absolutely. Cardiac rehab improves stamina and strength, getting participants back to their usual activities, including work, hobbies and regular exercise. Recent studies show that heart patients who complete a cardiac rehab program can increase their life expectancy by up to five years.
Is cardiac rehab expensive? Will insurance/Medicare cover it?
Cardiac rehabilitation is covered by most health insurance companies, but it’s always a good idea to check with your health insurer to determine copays or other requirements. If it’s not covered by your insurance, contact your local cardiac rehabilitation facility to find out what programs are available for patients who do not have insurance.
What are some highlights of the Sarasota Memorial Cardiopulmonary Rehab Program?
- Two state of the art locations: one in North Port and one in Sarasota, which offers access to Sarasota Memorial's unique, medically integrated fitness center, HealthFit.
- It has been certified and accredited by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation for more than 20 years.
- All exercise physiologists in the program are certified cardiac rehab professionals (CCRP) and/or certified clinical exercise physiologists (ACSM-CEP).
- SMH is the only hospital in Florida to offer Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease (Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation).