photo by: Courtesy of LMH Health

Pictured is LMH Health’s cardiac rehab team: from left, nurses Leann Dickson, Leann Towner and Kelly Kallenberger, exercise physiologist Vic White, nurses Vickie Friel and Liz Walters, exercise physiologist Mike Walters and director Jaye Cole.

When you’ve been treated for a serious cardiac event like a heart attack, lifestyle changes and medications might be necessary. The cardiac rehabilitation team at LMH Health can help make the transition easier.

Who is cardiac rehab for?

Cardiac rehab is a personalized treatment plan that’s an important part of care for patients who’ve had heart surgery and/or experienced cardiac problems such as angina, heart attack, heart failure, or peripheral artery disease.

“If you’re an inpatient at LMH Health and have one of these diagnoses, the cardiac rehab team will receive a referral and we will follow up after discharge to get you scheduled,” said exercise physiologist Susan Anderson. “If you’ve been sent to another hospital for a surgery that we aren’t able to perform at LMH, they will send a referral to us so that you can get this care close to home.”

What can I expect?

In cardiac rehab, a team of registered nurses, exercise physiologists and a respiratory therapist help patients reach their heart health goals.

“The program is tailored for each individual patient,” said registered nurse Kelly Kallenberger. “We work as their coaches for diet, exercise and medication, and we provide them with knowledge about heart disease, heart health and risk factor modification.”

Kallenberger said that each session of cardiac rehab goes over a different heart health topic. She said “getting the information in these little bites really sticks with our patients.”

Cardiac rehab is generally covered by most health insurance companies, but it’s important to check your plan to see if there are copays or other requirements.

Many plans, including Medicare, pay for up to 36 sessions.

Benefits for the patient

According to the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, patients who participate in cardiac rehab early in recovery reduce their risk of death. This includes a 26% to 31% reduction in the chance of cardiac death and 15% to 28% for mortality of any kind. Other benefits include:

• Improving stamina and strength, getting you back to your usual activities including work, family and regular, unsupervised exercise

• Increasing understanding of cardiac risk factors

• Controlling symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath

• Lessening the physical and emotional effects of heart disease

• Increasing the understanding of medications and their importance in recovery

Registered nurse Vickie Friel said patients in the LMH Health program show more confidence as treatment progresses.

“Participating in cardiac rehab gives them the courage to start, to continue and keep going in their recovery. You can see the progress from week to week,” Friel said. “A lot of people aren’t aware of the impact the cardiac event had on their overall health. As they continue to gain strength, it improves their willingness to improve and keep getting better.”

Patients receive a large amount of information during a hospital stay. In a recent study by The Joint Commission, 90% of patients were confident in understanding their diagnosis and treatment, but only 51% were able to correctly recall their post-discharge treatment plans. Even fewer (43%) correctly recalled their medication changes. Participating in a cardiac rehab program continually reinforces what patients need to do to stay healthy after they’ve left the hospital.

“Once a patient gets out of the hospital, their treatment doesn’t stop there,” registered nurse Liz Walters said. “It’s your fresh start to creating the life you want with a good, healthy heart. It’s the next step in your journey.”

— Autumn Bishop is the marketing manager and content strategist at LMH Health, which is a major sponsor of the Journal-World’s Health section.

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