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Optimizing Your Recovery with Cardiac Rehabilitation

Author: Lani dela Rama, RN, MSN

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For heart patients or those living with chronic cardiac conditions, recovery is an ongoing process. Beyond the physical recovery after a procedure, there’s often a need for lifestyle adjustments, education about their condition and psychological support. Having the dedicated support of health care providers, loved ones and fellow survivors can make a tremendous difference in a patient’s mental and physical rehabilitation efforts.

Whether you’re recovering from heart surgery, managing a chronic condition or simply looking to strengthen your heart and overall health, the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at Washington Hospital has something to offer.

The Program

The Cardiac Rehabilitation Program is designed to help patients repair and strengthen their heart health throughout their outpatient recovery. The program is led by a multi-disciplinary team of nurses, physicians, medical directors and exercise physiologists who are available to patients during each step of their recovery process.

Initially, the program aims to educate and empower patients while they prepare for their procedures. Before a procedure, a patient will meet with a pre-op team that includes a pre-op nurse; a cardiac rehabilitation therapist to review what to expect post-surgery and in the coming weeks; an EKG technician to run final tests; and the anesthesiologist who will be present during the procedure.

After the procedure, either a post-op nurse or the cardiac rehabilitation therapist will review the discharge orders and care. We also work with the families and loved ones of program participants so that everyone is on the same page when it comes time for the patient to return home.

Generally, patients are able to participate in the second phase of the program between four to six weeks after their surgery or procedure, though some may start sooner with their physician’s approval. During this phase, program participants will attend up to 36 guided rehabilitation sessions that focus on a variety of recovery topics including:

  • Heart-health education
  • Body conditioning and strength training
  • Lifestyle and nutrition counseling
  • Blood pressure and blood sugar control
  • Telemetry-monitored cardio vascular exercises

Patients have the added benefit of undergoing individual recovery education while attending these group sessions, allowing them to receive individualized care from their physicians as well as motivation and ongoing support from fellow rehabilitation patients. Once they’ve completed the first 36 sessions, patients have the option to continue with the maintenance program for a small fee.

How to Get Involved

Cardiac patients will automatically be introduced to the program and its offerings during their pre-op appointments. Additionally, the program is open to friends and family members of patient participants, and can also be accessed by the public with a referral from their primary care physician. The Cardiac Rehabilitation program at Washington Hospital also partners with Mended Hearts – a support group for anyone who has had heart surgery, suffered a heart attack, or is working to manage their ongoing cardiac conditions.

Visit the Washington Hospital website to explore our cardiac rehabilitation classes or to learn more about the cardiac rehabilitation program.

Posted: February 2020