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February is Heart Month. Cardiac Rehabilitation is key in healing your heart. Pictured is Janette Johnson of Postville pictured with Cardiac Rehab Nurse, Dietsy Weymiller.

How Can Cardiac Rehab Help Heal Your Heart?

By Amy Rolfs, RN, VMH Cardiac Rehab Supervisor

If you have a heart attack or other heart problem, cardiac rehabilitation is an important part of your recovery. Cardiac rehabilitation can help prevent another, perhaps more serious, heart attack and can help you build heart-healthy habits.

About 800,000 people in the United States have a heart attack every year. About 1 in 4 of those people already had a heart attack. Cardiac rehabilitation not only can help a person recover from a heart problem but can also prevent future heart problems.

What is cardiac rehabilitation?

Cardiac rehabilitation is an important program for anyone recovering from a heart attack, heart failure, or other heart problem that required surgery or medical care.

Cardiac rehabilitation is a supervised program that includes:

  • Physical activity.
  • Education about healthy living, including how to eat healthy, take medicine as prescribed, and quit smoking.
  • Counseling to find ways to relieve stress and improve mental health.

Who needs cardiac rehabilitation?

Anyone who has had a heart problem, such as a heart attack, heart failure, or heart surgery, can benefit from cardiac rehabilitation. Studies have found that cardiac rehabilitation helps men and women, people of all ages, and people with mild, moderate, and severe heart problems.

How does cardiac rehabilitation help?

Cardiac rehabilitation can have many health benefits in both the short and long term, including:

  • Strengthening your heart and body after a heart attack.
  • Relieving symptoms of heart problems, such as chest pain.
  • Building healthier habits such as getting more physical activity, quitting smoking, and eating a heart-healthy diet. A nutritionist or dietitian may work with you to help you limit foods with unhealthy fats and eat more fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
  • Reducing stress.
  • Improving your mood. People are more likely to feel depressed after a heart attack. Cardiac rehabilitation can help prevent or lessen depression.
  • Increasing your energy and strength to make daily activities like carrying groceries and climbing stairs easier.
  • Making you more likely to take your prescribed medicines that help lower your risk for future heart problems.
  • Preventing future illness and death from heart disease. Studies have found that cardiac rehabilitation decreases the chance that you will die in the 5 years following a heart attack.

Janette Johnson of Postville is currently attending the Cardiac Rehab program at Veterans Memorial Hospital following a heart procedure in Rochester and a swing bed skilled care stay at Veterans Memorial in December.  She began her cardiac rehab program just days before going home, continuing as an outpatient.

“I have utilized the Rehabilitation Department at Veterans Memorial Hospital many times and always saw people exercising in this room as I walked by, but never really knew what it was until I needed it.  The Rehab department has always been wonderful and the Cardiac Rehab department is too.  And it is convenient for me to drive here from Postville,” states Janette.  “I can see why  Cardiac Rehab is a requirement following a heart event.  It is so helpful and I am glad to be doing it.  Dr. McMullen told me when I am done with this, that this is not the end.  I told him I plan to join the YMCA in Postville and continue with my exercise.  I even ordered a new swim suit to utilize their pool which will really help my balance.”

Where can I get cardiac rehabilitation?

Veterans Memorial Hospital offers a Phase II cardiac rehab program. Our program consists of up to 36 monitored and supervised exercise sessions. These sessions also include evaluating your individual educational and counseling needs to help you with your recovery and improving your heart health. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are interested in more information about Cardiac Rehab.

For more information, please call Amy at Veterans Memorial Hospital Cardiac Rehab at 563-568-3411.