For more than 20 years, UWHC's inpatient and outpatient cardiac rehabilitation programs have been helping patients with heart disease recover and return to active, productive lives following heart attacks and bypass surgery.
- Exercise: Regular physical activity tailored to the patient's abilities, needs and interests
- Education: Learning about heart problems, including causes, prevention, treatment and management
- Counseling: Advice on why and how patients can change their lifestyles to lower the risk for further heart problems
Cardiac rehabilitation begins in the hospital after a heart attack, heart surgery, lung or heart transplant, or other heart treatment. Here, staff will help patients lay the foundation for lifestyle changes.
Rehabilitation specialists will:
- Monitor heart and activity programs during early recovery
- Perform individualized risk factor assessments and lipid evaluation
- Begin teaching patients about their medical conditions
To tailor the goals of the patient's rehabilitation program, a clinical exercise physiologist will look at overall health, heart condition and risk for future heart problems, as well as the patient's preferences, and will then develop a comprehensive rehabilitation plan.
Upon discharge, the program refers patients to a cardiac rehabilitation program near their hometown, if such a program is available. Additionally, during the recovery period, patients continue visiting the outpatient cardiac rehabilitation program.
What are the benefits of cardiac rehabilitation?
Cardiac rehabilitation helps patients inside and out. As the heart recovers, patients will:
- Reduce risk of future cardiac problems
- Increase strength and endurance
- Regain self-confidence
- Learn how to monitor themselves for home activity
- Learn about heart disease conditions and ways to manage them
- Meet other people who have heart problems, with whom they can share ideas
- Individual sessions: Patients work with a clinical exercise physiologist for three to six individual sessions. This team member will closely monitor the patient and will teach the patient how to exercise safely. We encourage family members to attend the sessions.
- Group sessions: After the one-on-one sessions, patients can join an exercise group designed for people with heart problems. These groups meet three times a week.
- Home exercise sessions: If patients live out of town and cannot attend the group sessions, they can meet with a staff member who will develop a home program for them.
During participation in these exercise sessions, whether at one of our facilities or at your home, patients continue to visit the outpatient rehabilitation clinic occasionally for follow-up.
Education and Counseling
- Nutritional counseling: Individual and group nutrition counseling is available. Our dietitians will assess patients' eating habits and suggest ways to make healthy changes. They also will review their cholesterol level, help determine optimum weight, and discuss meal planning, food label reading and food preparation, as well as how to make good food choices when eating out.
- Stress reduction: The Cardiac Rehabilitation Department offers a mindfulness-based stress reduction and relaxation program. We offer individual, small group and large group sessions.
Together with the instructor, patients are guided in selecting what aspects of this program would be helpful to them. Patients will learn to take an active role in their recovery. Mindfulness-based stress reduction provides them with ways to develop calmness, stability and insight. The method introduces a way to manage the difficult and challenging circumstances of our lives.