What is Cardiac Rehabilitation?
Cardiac Rehabilitation programs combine both cardiac health education and exercise, tailored to meet individual needs and health conditions.
Phase I starts in the hospital. Ideally, your Cardiac Rehabilitation program starts while you're still in the hospital. You may begin with non-strenuous activities, such as sitting up in bed, range-of-motion exercises and self-care, such as shaving. You then progress to walking and limited stair climbing. You'll engage in the kinds of activities you'll encounter once you're back at home.
Phase II begins after you leave the hospital and is often done in an outpatient setting; meaning you'll travel back and forth from your home to a rehabilitation center for this portion of your recovery.
This phase is a structured, medically supervised, outpatient program for patients with heart disease that incorporates regular exercise along with other services that may include nutritional counseling, stress management, and smoking cessation. A standard Cardiac Rehabilitation program generally includes 36 sessions over the course of three months, with three sessions weekly. Each session lasts about one hour, with about a 30 minute exercise period incorporated between instructor led warm-up and cool-down sessions. Throughout each session, a patient's ECG is monitored by a nurse using a state of the art telemetry monitoring system. Exercise levels on each piece of equipment are adjusted regularly by an exercise physiologist, based on heart rate performance, the patient's level of comfort and their physician’s directions to provide maximal safe progress in exercise capacity.
During this phase, you gradually increase your activity level, usually under the close supervision of your cardiac rehabilitation team. Your team might suggest exercises you can safely do at home, such as walking and gentle calisthenics. You also learn about eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking, coping with your condition, resuming sexual activity and finding social support
Phase III and Phase IV is a long-term maintenance program — something to follow for the rest of your life. By this point, you probably will have developed your own exercise routine at home or at a local gym. You may also continue to exercise at a cardiac rehab center. You may remain under medical supervision during this time, particularly if you have special health concerns. Education about nutrition, lifestyle and weight loss may continue, as well as counseling. For best success, make sure your exercise and lifestyle practices become lifelong habits.
What are the goals of Cardiac Rehabilitation?
The goals of Cardiac Rehabilitation are:
1) to reduce further complications from heart disease
2) to optimize cardiovascular performance in patients with heart disease
3) to reduce cardiac risk by educating each patient as to their own Cardiac Risk Factors
and developing specific and workable interventions to modify those Risk Factors
4) to promote a healthy heart life style, including exercise, diet, and stress management 5) to restore a patients’ and their family’s confidence in the patient’s physical
capabilities after cardiac events,
Who is eligible for Cardiac Rehabilitation?
Most insurances cover a significant portion of Cardiac Rehab’s cost if the patient has an approved cardiac diagnosis. Currently, Medicare, which generally sets the standard for reimbursement, will cover Cardiac Rehab for patients who have had any of the following:
1) heart attack within a calendar year of the start of Cardiac Rehabilitation
2) coronary artery bypass surgery,
3) stable angina
4) angioplasty or stent in a coronary artery
5) heart transplant or heart lung transplant
6) heart Valve replacement or repair.
Other insurance plans may have additional diagnosis that may be covered, including:
1) following a pacemaker insertion
2) congestive heart failure.
3) following an Implanted Automatic Defibrillator
4) high blood pressure
5) multiple Cardiac Risk Factors
6) Peripheral Arterial Disease (in the legs)
Checking with your Cardiologist and insurance company are the best methods to determine if your insurance company will cover Cardiac Rehab.
What are some of the physical effects of Cardiac Rehabilitation?
Exercise training during Cardiac Rehabilitation improves stamina, increases energy levels and reduces bodily pain in nearly all patients, regardless of age, gender or cardiac disability. Included with each exercise class, are other important parts of physical fitness:
3) upper body strength
Other important affects include:
The body uses available oxygen more efficiently so daily activities are easier and less tiring.
Body fat is burned longer resulting in weight loss.
Blood pressure may be reduced.
Blood glucose (sugar) has less fluctuation and stabilizes at a lower level.
Emotional fatigue is less.