Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised program designed for people who have had a heart attack, heart failure, angioplasty, heart surgery, or other heart conditions. This program aims to assist patients in their recovery from heart procedures and improve their overall physical, mental, and social functioning.
The programme also seeks to stabilise, slow or even reverse the progression of cardiovascular disease. The comprehensive approach ensures that patients are not just treated but also educated about their conditions and how to manage them in the long run.
The Components of Cardiac Rehabilitation
Cardiac rehabilitation involves three key components: physical exercise training, education on heart-healthy living, and counselling to reduce stress and help patients return to an active life. Each component is crucial to the patient’s recovery and ongoing health management.
- Exercise Training: This helps you learn how to exercise safely, strengthen your muscles, and improve your stamina. Your exercise plan will be based on your personal abilities, needs, and interests. Regular physical activity can help reduce your chance of future heart events and improve your quality of life.
- Education for Heart-Healthy Living: This may include nutritional counselling, help to quit smoking, and education about your medications and other aspects of your heart condition to help you manage it. Understanding your condition and how to live a healthier lifestyle can significantly affect your heart health.
- Counselling: Counselling can help you understand your condition better, manage your health, reduce your risk for future heart problems, cope with stress, and improve your mental health. It provides emotional support and can help you deal with feelings of fear or depression that might come with a heart condition.
The Importance of Cardiac Rehabilitation
Cardiac rehabilitation is an important part of recovery after a heart event. It has been shown to improve quality of life, reduce symptoms of heart disease such as chest pain and shortness of breath, and decrease the chance of having another heart event.
In addition to improving physical health, cardiac rehabilitation also focuses on improving strength and endurance, reducing anxiety and depression, and helping patients make lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, losing weight, and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels. These lifestyle changes are essential for long-term heart health and can significantly reduce the risk of further heart issues.
Who Needs Cardiac Rehabilitation?
Cardiac rehabilitation is often recommended for people who have had:
- A heart attack
- Heart surgery (like coronary bypass surgery)
- Coronary intervention procedures such as stenting or angioplasty
- Stable angina
- Heart failure
It’s also beneficial for people at high risk of heart disease, such as those with:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels
- A family history of heart disease
The Cardiac Rehabilitation Process
The process typically starts with an evaluation by a cardiac rehabilitation professional who will consider the patient’s personal health history, physical abilities, and fitness level. After this initial assessment, a personalised plan includes physical exercise, education, and counselling.
Cardiac rehabilitation usually involves sessions three times a week for three to six months. Each session lasts about an hour. The programme’s exercise portion often involves walking on a treadmill, cycling on a stationary bike, and resistance training. It is designed to increase in intensity as your endurance improves gradually.