Sep 22, 2019 The Road to Cardiac Recovery

A cardiac rehabilitation program has proven benefits to help you on your journey.

Cardiac Rehabilitation program at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Rahway"What do I do now?" That’s the question patients often ask after a cardiac event or procedure. One very good answer: Participate in cardiac rehabilitation — a medically supervised program of exercise, education, nutritional counseling and support.

Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) works. Research shows that people who participate have a reduced risk of hospital readmission, improved health factors (for example, blood pressure and lipid profiles) and a better quality of life. Yet research also shows that only a third or fewer cardiac patients take advantage of CR programs — whether because of lack of time, lack of information or a belief that exercising on their own will be an adequate substitute.

"A lot of patients think they can walk on their own or get conditioned on their own at a fitness center," says Helen Peare, RNBSN, Director of the Cardiac Service Line for Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Rahway. "But in our program, we’re monitoring patients for any problems, and that’s reassuring for them. We’re helping them recondition and regain their strength, but they also get their self-confidence back and get education about cardiac health.

"We’re doing everything we can to keep them out of the hospital and functioning as well as they were prior to their cardiac event — or better!"

Customized care

CR is suitable for patients across a broad spectrum of cardiac concerns. Many insurers, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover CR services for patients who have recently experienced a heart attack, coronary artery bypass surgery, chronic heart failure, valve repair and heart transplant, among other conditions. Exceptions apply (check with your insurer).

At the Nicholas Quadrel Healthy Heart Center for Cardio-Pulmonary Rehabilitation at RWJUH Rahway, participants complete one-hour sessions, usually over the course of three months. A nurse evaluates patients for exercise capacity, and reviews medical history, current medications, nutrition and lifestyle. The nurse then creates an exercise regimen customized for the patient. Blood pressure and heart rate are monitored throughout each session, and progress reports are sent to the patient’s referring physician. Additionally, patients have access to a registered dietitian, as well as education on managing their condition, reducing risk factors and making heart-healthy choices.

Farah Lebron, RN, recalls the story of a recent patient who had undergone heart surgery. "She was devastated when her cardiologist told her she couldn’t lift her 18-pound grandbaby," Lebron says, "but it motivated her to keep working. After six weeks of cardiac rehab, the doctor lifted that restriction. She was so happy! We see every day how our program really changes people and turns things around for them."

Your heart doesn't just beat for you. Get it checked. To reach an RWJUH Rahway cardiac specialist, call: 888-724-7123