For patients who have suffered from heart attack, coronary artery disease, or heart failure or undergone stent, bypass, or valve replacement procedures, Summit Healthcare Regional Medical Center offers a cardiac rehab program designed to get them back to their daily lives—and with a decreased chance that the event will recur.
“We are a chronic disease management and education program, and our goal is to help people with chronic heart disease understand how to live a long and healthy life,” says Dawn Marino, R.N., BSN, CCRP, staff nurse and patient educator at Summit Healthcare. “We want them to be informed about their recovery and able to move on with their lives following a heart event.”
HOW DOES CARDIAC REHAB WORK?
After being referred by a doctor, patients go through a comprehensive intake interview that allows nurses and therapists to design a program individualized to a particular patient. Your first visit usually involves a walking or seated exercise test that lasts six minutes. Once your fitness level is determined, you and the staff will work together to determine how best to spend your visits in terms of education and exercise.
Your unique program will include exercise, dietary changes, lessons on identifying and managing stress, and social support. Classes include stress management, healthy cooking and eating, relaxation to improve heart and lung function, and managing heart and lung emergencies, among many others.
“Our program works very closely with our medical director, Imran Ata, M.D., as well as our patients’ cardiologists,” Dawn says. “We try to make sure a patient’s progress in the program is appropriate and fits into the cardiologist’s plan for them.”
FORMING A PARTNERSHIP
Typically, your cardiac rehabilitation team will consist of:
“We partner with our clients,” Dawn says. “They are in charge of their program. We’re their coaches and resources, but they are in charge of guiding us to help them manage their disease as effectively as possible.”
Educational classes are also open to the general public and free of charge, benefiting individuals who may not have diagnosed cases of heart disease but do have risk factors.
“Living with heart disease can be frightening, but it is manageable,” Dawn says. “Through the process of learning about the condition and making lifestyle changes, most patients can live a long and healthy life.”