Clear benefits … being missed
“The research on cardiac rehab shows a tremendous
benefit for going to rehab versus not going to rehab,” Dunn
said. “The patients who go to rehab are much less likely to
have another heart attack and there is as much as a 25-50
percent increase in survival if they do — if they participate
in all 36 sessions. Other benefits may include reduced
hospital readmission, improved quality of life and better
control of blood pressure and cholesterol.”
While exercise training and lifestyle education
are crucial parts of all cardiac rehab programs, Dunn
emphasized that social support plays an important part.
“For one thing, it can reduce the anxiety level of patients
when they connect with others,” he said. “The more they
can connect with other patients, the better they may feel
about themselves. They don’t feel isolated, like ‘I’m the
only one experiencing this kind of problem.’ In my 30
years of experience, I have found that modeling other
patients is an effective way for adult patients to learn
how to change their behaviors for a more heart-healthy
lifestyle.” The American Heart Association’s Support
Network is also available 24/7 for those who would like
to connect and share with other patients.
Despite all that, fewer than 20 percent who are
eligible for cardiac rehab are ever referred to a program.
If you’ve had a cardiac event, procedure or surgery and
didn’t get a cardiac rehab prescription afterwards, talk
with your doctor about whether you should have one.
You may use our downloadable cardiac rehab referral
card in English or Spanish to help start the conversation
with your healthcare provider.
“The medical care someone receives following a
heart attack, open-heart surgery, or stent is a lifesaving
experience,” Dunn said. “Cardiac rehabilitation can
be a life-changing experience. Becoming more active,
learning to eat better, deal with stress, and manage risk
factors, such as blood pressure and cholesterol, can result
in a better quality of life.”
Visit the American Heart Association website for
more information about cardiac rehab. You can also order
a copy of our popular cardiac rehab workbook and DVD,
An Active Partnership for the Health of Your Heart. It
offers encouragement, knowledge and resources to help
you make lasting lifestyle changes.
Cardiac rehab supervisor, David Cowan, talks about some of the benefits of CR.