Studies show cardiac rehab can be a lifesaver, but the majority of people who could use it, aren’t.
“The general Medicare guidelines, which most insurances follow, go from heart attack, angina, stent, heart transplant, open heart surgery- which can include the bypass graphs or valve repair,” says Alexis Collins, RN, with Lee Memorial Health System.
That adds up to millions of potential patients. Only one in four is taking advantage. Collins works on lifestyle modification.
“We want you to not only have the dietary, the exercise benefits, but to maintain your smoking sensation, to control your blood pressure, control your blood cholesterol. When you are with us for up to 12 weeks we’re reinforcing that. You are becoming accountable for yourself,” says Collins.
Here’s what to expect from a cardiac rehab program like the one at Cape Coral Hospital: you’ll begin with an evaluation of your history and medical condition, go on to a personal treatment plan, get counseling on healthy choices and take part in supervised exercise.
“Oh yeah, it’s wonderful to watch them to get stronger. They feel better, they are doing more, they are able to do more at home. Nothing breeds success like success,” says George Hays, cardiac exercise specialist with Lee Memorial Health System.
A study from the Mayo Clinic found cardiac rehab graduates were 50% less likely to die within 5 years of their heart event. Lowering risk factors while raising fitness levels adds up to a change of heart.
“That’s what we try to get across to them. So we try to encourage them to work outside of here to develop some independence,” says Hays.
“And not see you come back as a patient,” says Collins.