By Cassie Mullins, RN Cardiopulmonary Rehab Supervisor at Sheridan Memorial Hospital
In Sheridan, we are lucky to have many services to support heart health, from the cardiology team at the Heart Center, to our Cardiac Catheterization Lab and state of the art ICU at Sheridan Memorial Hospital. After having a heart attack, being diagnosed with heart failure, or after a heart procedure like a coronary artery bypass, coronary stent placement, or valve replacement, Sheridan Memorial Hospital’s nationally accredited Cardiopulmonary Rehab program provides support to help you recover.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds in the United States, and heart failure was a contributing cause of 1 in 8 deaths in 2017. After a major cardiac event, many are scared or uncertain of what to do to get themselves back on track. This fear and uncertainly can come from both being told something went wrong with your heart and from trying to learn a whole new set of “rules” to follow. New foods, new medications, new appointments, and new recommendations regarding physical activity can lead some to feel overwhelmed and underprepared for living a healthy life as a heart disease survivor.
Cardiac rehab plays a huge role in reducing the potentially devastating effects of heart disease. It is here that patients are given guidance and structure to help develop the necessary skills to face their new reality.
In cardiac rehab patients see other people like themselves exercising, socializing, and learning how to manage their heart disease with help from nurses, pharmacists, and dietitians. The foundation of cardiac rehab is physical activity. We monitor your heart rate and rhythm with a heart monitor that you wear during exercise, and check your vital signs before, during and after exercise. This information ensures that staff has the ability to see how your heart is reacting to physical activity in real-time. We work with patients to encourage a slow and safe increase in physical activity. In addition to exercise, at Sheridan Memorial Hospital’s Cardiac Rehab program we also provide education on cardiac disease, exercise safety, a heart-healthy diet, stress management, and medications.
Cardiac rehabilitation is recommended by the American Heart Association and covered by Medicare and many insurance companies. Studies have shown that participating in cardiac rehab substantially reduces the risk of death for individuals who have received a qualifying diagnosis or cardiac procedure. People who attend cardiac rehab programs live longer, are less likely to have a heart attack, and are less likely to be hospitalized. Yet most eligible patients don’t participate at all, let alone complete the recommended number of sessions.
Cardiac rehab has three phases. The first phase is the time immediately after a heart attack or procedure. The second phase is the monitored exercise phase. During this time your doctor can order 18, 24, or 36 closely monitored exercise sessions for you to complete. We encourage our patients to work up to exercising 3 times a week with us. After graduating from the second phase, we encourage our patients to continue to exercise! During the third phase, we provide the opportunity for our patients to continue exercising in our gym with less monitoring. The ultimate goal is for our patients to feel safe and confident participating in whatever kind of exercise they enjoy doing, whether that is in a cardiac rehab setting, at home, or in the community.
If you have had a heart attack, heart failure, or a heart procedure, ask your doctor if you could be eligible to be enrolled in cardiac rehab. For more information call Cardiopulmonary Rehab at Sheridan Memorial Hospital (307) 672-1062.