Hospital using Cardiac Rehab Week to highlight how to have a healthy heart

Since February is National Heart Month, the Faith Regional Health Services cardiac rehabilitation team has used this week to create fun activities and learning opportunities for their patients.

Shane O’Brien, cardiac rehab manager at Faith Regional, said cardiac rehab week saw a rush of poker and drawings. The hospital is also bringing in speakers discussing general heart health and nutrition.

“Usually it’s been patients who’ve been here before through the program, but are allowed to bring their spouses, learn more and have some fun,” he said.

O’Brien said there are a few ways patients can use his services. Doctors will order such rehabilitation for patients who have had a heart attack, stent placement, congestive heart failure or bypass surgery, she added.

“What we do is exercise and education,” O’Brien said. “It’s a lifestyle modification. We won’t fix them in six or eight weeks when we get them. But we try to get them off to a good start where they can maintain lifelong health and change risk factors so they don’t have another cardiac event and can live a long, healthy life even with a previous cardiac event.

O’Brien said this is usually found in the hospital’s Phase 2 program. Faith Regional also has a Phase 4 program for those who are at high risk of having a cardiac event but have yet to experience one. This is for those who are obese, have diabetes or have high blood pressure, she said.

“We get them started on an exercise program,” she said. “It’s pretty much the same thing (as before). It’s a lifestyle modification, so those risk factors you currently have don’t lead to a cardiac event. It is open to practically anyone.

Faith Regional also lists several services offered by cardiac rehabilitation.

These include nutrition counseling, classes and support groups, manual CPR education, stress management, social services, smoking cessation, exercise, and support to help those who may be recovering from the lingering effects of COVID-19.

The hospital also offers the Healthy Partners Spouse Program, which also encourages a patient’s family and caregivers to participate in such services.

Undergoing cardiac rehabilitation, the hospital noted, helps patients improve their overall well-being, improve quality of life, lower heart rate and blood pressure, manage their weight, prevent future heart problems, get back to work sooner and strengthen the lungs.

O’Brien said the hospital also has a pulmonary program and will celebrate Pulmonary Rehabilitation Week in March. Patients use rehab if they have COPD or lung cancer, for example.

“There are a lot of patients out there who have a pulmonary event and don’t know what to do, we can help them in the race to recovery,” O’Brien said. “It is also their responsibility. We won’t fix them in six or eight weeks but hopefully we’ll get them off to a good start.”

The League Association of Risk Management has provided eight ways to improve heart health as a way to highlight February’s Heart Month

1. Get your cholesterol checked: Levels of 160 or more mg/DL are considered unhealthy and put you at risk of having a heart attack.

2. High blood pressure affects heart health: One in two adults in the United States is thought to have high blood pressure, yet only one in five controls it. Any reading above 130/80 mmHg is evidence that the individual is at increased risk for stroke or heart disease.

3. Quit smoking: Smoking cigarettes causes damage to the heart and blood vessels.

4. Stress Physiologically Affects Heart Health: Manage stress by staying positive, making time to meditate, exercising by unplugging from television or social media, and finally, finding your own stress management technique.

5. Weight Affects Heart Health: Being overweight increases your chance of becoming diabetic, which can triple your risk of having a heart attack.

6. Reduce salt intake: This drastically reduces the risk of coronary heart disease.

7. Brush your teeth: Researchers have shown that bacteria that cause gum disease also increase your risk of heart disease.

8. Drink moderately: Excessive alcohol consumption is linked to high blood pressure, heart failure and cardiomyopathy, a heart muscle disorder. Moderate drinking is defined as 12 ounces of beer or 4 ounces of wine per day.

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