Cardiac Rehab: Getting to the Heart of Good Health

Cardiac rehabilitation, or cardiovascular rehabilitation, is a multi-modal treatment developed to reduce the risk of complications for people suffering from heart disease. According to The Heart & Stroke Foundation, cardiovascular disease is responsible for almost 1 in 6 deaths (17,3%) in South Africa. The primary goals in a cardiac rehab regimen are to improve overall quality of life, minimise risk of relapse, and of course improve health. Treatment typically involves 4 different core components and can help a variety of different conditions. Find out more about how you can benefit from cardiac rehabilitation and get to the heart of good health.

Who Can Cardiac Rehab Help?

Cardiac rehabilitation is an evidence based treatment specifically developed to aid those in recovery from heart related disease. Patients who can benefit from cardiac rehabilitation include: angioplasty (stents), myocardial infarction (heart attack), valve replacement, aortic root repair, and many more.

Cardiac rehab empowers us to take control over our heart health.

The 4 Core Components of Cardiac Rehab:

1. Physical Activity

“Exercise should be regarded as a tribute to the heart” – Gene Tunney.

Exercise is fundamental to heart health. Thankfully, there is an enormous variety of exercises to incorporate into a cardiac rehab regimen to suit your preferences. That being said, low impact exercise is typically what your healthcare practitioner will advise: walking, cycling, rowing, yoga, weight lifting and more can be included. But, if you’ve undergone a surgery or suffered a heart attack it’s extremely important that you carefully warm up and cool down under the supervision of your physio.

2. Lifestyle Advice

“Life is one of those precious fleeting gifts and everything can change in a heartbeat” – Anonymous.

The first lifestyle aspects involved are typically advice on smoking cessation, moderation of alcohol intake, and healthy eating habits. However, there are other parts of one’s lifestyle which will be impacted by cardiovascular disease. According to evidence published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, people undergoing cardiac rehab can look forward to a boost in libido.

Cardiac rehab involves learning new methods of stress management such as meditation, mindfulness, or picking up a new hobby.

3. Stress Management

“Stress is not what happens to us. It is our response to what happens. And response is something we can choose” – Maureen Killoran.

Chronic stress is a very common thread among those who’ve suffered from heart disease. Stress can lead to higher blood pressure, and maladaptive coping mechanisms like smoking, drinking, comfort eating. Learning to cope with, and respond healthily to stress will have lasting positive effects on heart health and quality of life.

4. Health Education

“Most people have no idea how good their body is designed to feel” – Kevin Trudeau.

Every step of the way during a cardiac rehabilitation programme, there are opportunities to learn something new. Lifestyle advice for example will be much more meaningful when supported by an understanding of the health mechanisms involved. Consider smoking, many know that it is associated with lung disease and cancer. However, the weakening of the lungs also places extra strain on the heart. Exercise and stress management advice will also involve health education. Your physiotherapist and nutritionist will be able to guide you and help you to understand everything you need to know about improving your heart health.

Healthy eating is an essential element of cardiac rehabilitation and you’ll receive advice on specific foods to include and what to avoid.

How to Get Started with Cardiac Rehab

To get started with cardiac rehabilitation, one must be referred by the primary care physician. The primary care physician will prescribe cardiac rehab when a patient is deemed stable and cleared by cardiology. The best cardiac rehab is administered by a multidisciplinary team (MDT) of healthcare professionals including a doctor, physiotherapist, and nutritionist. The MDT may also include a psychologist should it be necessary. If you, or someone you know, has undergone a procedure related to the heart, feel free to contact Faircape Health Tokai for world-class sub-acute healthcare.

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