More than 800,000 people in the United States have a heart attack every year. According to the Centers for Disease Control, that amounts to one every 40 seconds. When you’ve been treated for a serious cardiac event, 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 rehabilitation – also called cardiac rehab – is a personalized treatment plan that’s an important part of care for patients who’ve experienced certain diagnoses, including:

  • Angina
  • Cardiac surgery
  • Coronary artery angioplasty or stent
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Heart transplant
  • 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?

The LMH Health Cardiac Rehabilitation program helps patients stabilize and recover from a cardiac event, and slow or reverse the progression of heart disease. Talk to your physician to see if cardiac rehab is right for you.

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Our team of registered nurses, exercise physiologists and a respiratory therapist work together to help you reach your heart health goals. The LMH Health Cardiac Rehab program is medically supervised by Elizabeth Guastello, MD, a cardiologist with Cardiovascular Specialists of Lawrence.

“The program is tailored for each individual patient. 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,” said registered nurse Kelly Kallenberger. “Each session we go over a different topic, like a diet recommended by the American Heart Association. It may only be a few minutes out of your session, but 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

Participating in a cardiac rehab program provides a wealth of benefits. According to the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR), patients who participate in cardiac rehab early in recovery reduce their risk of death. This includes a 26-31% reduction in the chance of cardiac death and 15-28% for all-cause mortality. 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 Vicki Friel and the other members of the cardiac rehab team also see patients increasing their courage and 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. A recent study by The Joint Commission shows that a majority of patients (90%) 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. With this limited amount of retention, participating in a cardiac rehab program gives patients the opportunity to learn more to stay healthy.

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

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