Cardiopulmonary rehab is a comprehensive program designed to help patients who have heart and lung issues recover faster; improve their physical function; and deal with the many emotional aspects of heart attack, heart surgery or chronic lung conditions live the most full and productive lives possible. The therapy includes medical evaluation, prescribed exercise, medical risk factor reduction, education and counseling.
Phase 1 cardiac rehab
Phase 1 cardiac rehab begins during the participant's hospitalization and continues through their discharge. The primary focus at this time is on recuperation, understanding medications, safe activity levels and options after discharge.
Phase 2 cardiac rehab
Phase 2 (early outpatient) cardiac rehab optimally is initiated within the 1st 2 weeks following hospital discharge but might not begin for up to 12 months following discharge if there are complications. One-hour exercise sessions are held 3 times per week. Participants have access to treadmills, seated stepping machines (NuSteps), an arm ergometer, and upper and lower body strength training equipment.
A cardiac rehabilitation nurse and an exercise physiologist work closely with you to develop an individualized exercise program based on your abilities. Exercises can help to reduce your resting heart rate and blood pressure, blood cholesterol, body weight, body fat, and stress, while increasing your capacity for physical activity. Blood pressure, heart rate, heart rhythm and overall response to exercise are monitored carefully to allow a safe, gradual progression of exercise.
Health education sessions are held throughout the course of your therapy during your exercise sessions. Program education consists of staff presentations, written materials, educational videos and presentations weekly by the dietitian. Classes help you understand your heart disease and risk factor modification. Topics include stress reduction, exercise principles, diet modification, anatomy and physiology of the heart, and medications. Family members are welcome to attend the weekly education classes along with you for support and encouragement. The education classes are designed to increase your knowledge and commitment to a heart-healthy lifestyle.
As patients start to develop the skills to begin living healthier lives, their mental and emotional outlook improves. This also helps to speed the physical recovery process. Furthermore, relationships developed during treatment encourage patients to share experiences and concerns with others in the same situation. This helps them to better cope with their condition and manage their health.
Maintenance programs are intended for phase 2 graduates, low-risk patients with known coronary artery disease (CAD), those with documented coronary risk factors, or individuals who are simply deconditioned and wish to improve their general health. Maintenance services provide an enduring, structured environment for individuals who wish to continue the lifestyle changes they have adopted. The activity program is the same as for phase 2, but with minimal surveillance, consisting of blood pressure and pulse checks before and after exercise or more often if warranted. Participants can continue in the maintenance program as long as they wish. Maintenance services generally are not reimbursed by Medicare or most 3rd party payers. Typically, the fees charged by most rehabilitation facilities are nominal and quite affordable.
Pulmonary rehabilitation assists in the treatment of patients with chronic respiratory problems. Benefits include helping patients to:
- Improve their physical capabilities.
- Understand the nature of their respiratory disease.
- Cope with the disease.
- Develop a positive self-image.
Participants engage in a monitored program of exercise therapy 2 to 3 times per week. Classes help you understand your lung disease and make positive lifestyle choices. Topics include:
- Anatomy and physiology of the lungs.
- Proper breathing techniques.
- Proper use of medications.
- Exercise principles.
- Stress reduction.
- Diet modification.
Participants usually attend the monitored pulmonary rehabilitation program for 6 to 12 weeks.