The Benefits of Cardiac Rehabilitation (CR)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Cardiac Rehabilitation is a program of:

  1. Physical Exercises
  2. Education about following a heart-healthy lifestyle
  3. Counseling to cope with stress and improve mental health

Million Hearts defines cardiac rehabilitation (CR) as a program of 36 one-hour physical exercise sessions specifically designed for improving cardiovascular health and to prevent new cardiovascular events for:

  • Recovering from a heart attack
  • Recuperating from by-pass, valve surgery, post angioplasty or stent
  • Stable angina
  • Stable congestive heart failure (CHF)
  • After a heart or heart-lung transplant

Beneficial Effects of the Exercise Program for Post-Cardiac Surgery

The CDC lists the following benefits of CR:

  • Strengthens your heart and body after a heart attack
  • Relieves chest pain from heart problems
  • Builds healthy habits by encouraging quitting smoking, eating heart-healthy foods and a professional nutritionist may help you to eat more fruits and vegetables and limit the amount of foods with unhealthy fats.
  • Reduces stress
  • Improves mood
  • Increases energy and strength
  • Helps you to understand the importance of taking your prescribed medicines to lower your risk for future cardiac events
  • Prevents future heart problems and death

Low Enrollment in Cardiac Rehabilitation

According to research, a physical exercise program reduces the chance for death for any cause and also makes the hospital stay shorter with a decreased risk for more hospital admissions. In spite of this and that Medicare and Medicaid cover it and most private health plans contribute to the cost, the CDC reports that only one in three of every post cardiac patient enrolls in a CR program. The CDC says that seniors, especially, do not enroll in large numbers possibly because of a belief that they are too old to exercise or because they suffer from pain from osteoarthritis. However, the reality is that seniors can only benefit from the program and should be encouraged to join unless their doctor specifically tells them not to join CR.

Cardiac Rehabilitation (CR) and Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

Congestive heart failure (CHF) affects more than six million Americans and about 650,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. CHF is on the rise as the aging population continues to grow.
At one time doctors did not send patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) to cardiac rehabilitation until research showed that CR was beneficial for patients with CHF. CHF is the leading cause for seniors to be hospitalized and results in about a million hospital admissions every year. CHF is also a major risk for disability, a poor quality of life, reduced ability to function and a major cause of death. Heart disease is the number one leading cause of death in the United States.

A study published December, 2013 in JACC found that people with CHF could benefit from CR, so now doctors refer patients with CHF to CR unless they have certain medical conditions that would make CR dangerous such as:

  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Moderate to severe stiffness of the aorta
  • Heart muscle damage
  • A risk for blood clots
  • Other medical conditions

Where to get Cardiac Rehabilitation

Some programs are carried out in hospitals. Some can be in the patient’s home and others are at a rehabilitation center such as the Royal Suites Healthcare and Rehabilitation in Galloway Township, New Jersey. Royal Suites offers state-of-the-art cardiac rehabilitation (CR) and they are located in a very beautiful setting and offer some great amenities like fine dining of heart healthy foods.

Conclusion

In order to prevent more heart attacks and live longer it pays to enroll in a cardiac rehabilitation program, but you must check with your doctor who will refer you to CR

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