Cardiac rehabilitation

Northern Hospital of Surry County
Loyd Sams (left) and John Priddy exercise on the treadmills during their session of cardiac rehab at Northern Hospital. Cardiac Rehab is located on the third floor at Northern. -

Northern Cardiac Rehabilitation is improving the lives of people living in Mount Airy and the surrounding communities who have had heart attacks, heart surgery and other heart illnesses. Before the opening of Northern Cardiac Rehabilitation in May 2017, the closest cardiac rehabilitation programs were at least a thirty-minute drive for people living in the Mount Airy vicinity.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Every year about 785,000 Americans have a first heart attack. Another 470,000 who have already had one or more heart attacks have another attack.

Having a heart attack is a scary, life changing experience for many people. Any serious medical diagnosis, such as heart disease, is likely to generate many emotions. Emotions range from anxiety, fear about the future, as well as what does this mean for my life and longevity, my family and the people I care about.

The anxiety, fear and constant worry puts the body into a fight or flight mode; stress hormones are released and cause the heart rate and blood pressure to increase and constrict blood vessels. When these symptoms become chronic, they increase the likelihood of having another heart attack.

What is cardiac rehabilitation?

While cardiac rehab does not change the past, it is an important part of recovery from a heart illness. It is a medically supervised program designed to help improve cardiovascular health and overall quality of life. Cardiac rehab has three equally important parts:

• Exercise counseling and training: Exercise gets the heart pumping and the entire cardiovascular system working. Patients learn safe exercise techniques under the guidance of exercise physiologists.

• Education for heart-healthy living: Learning to manage risk factors, choosing heart- healthy nutrition, quitting smoking and more. Education about heart-healthy living is a key element of cardiac rehab.

• Counseling to reduce stress: Stress hurts the heart. This part of rehab helps patients identify and tackle everyday sources of stress.

The multi-disciplinary staff is a team of professionals with specialized training and experience in cardiac rehabilitation. They work with each participant to tailor a program that fits each individual’s lifestyle and needs to maximize their recovery.

The ultimate goal of cardiac rehabilitation is to lower the likelihood of future heart problems or related death. As many people who have participated in these programs will attest, it can help people feel better physically and emotionally while giving them greater control over their health.

Why is this type of program important?

Cardiac rehab can be lifesaving for many. It can help to prevent future heart problems, cardiac events and related deaths. According to studies, those who participate in cardiac rehab have up to 30 percent fewer fatal heart events and are 25 percent less likely to die, compared to people getting standard therapy alone. These folks also can lower their chance of a second heart attack or heart surgery.

People who enroll in this program typically have more success when it comes to controlling other cardiovascular risk factors including high blood pressure and cholesterol). This is because cardiac rehab is comprehensive, focusing on the whole patient and providing the tools and information needed to make health changes that are sustainable.

Other benefits of cardiac rehab include:

• Less chest pain, and in some cases less need for medications

• Preventing future hospital stays

• Weight loss

• Better nutrition and the know-how to make heart healthy choices

• Reduced stress and greater emotional well-being

Who should take part in cardiac rehab?

There are many with heart problems who can benefit from cardiac rehab and it is often recommended for those who have:

• Recently suffered a heart attack

• Stable angina (chest pain)

• Heart failure

• Heart procedures such as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), which includes angioplasty or cardiac stenting

• Heart surgery such as coronary artery bypass surgery, heart valve repair or replacement,

• Heart or heart–lung transplant

The cardiac rehab program requires a physician referral and generally takes three months, with sessions two or three times a week (usually 36 sessions over a 12-week time-period). Patients are encouraged to continue regular exercise once they have completed cardiac rehabilitation.

Patient Experience

To date, more than 50 patients have completed cardiac rehabilitation at Northern Hospital. Graduates and participants report their experience at cardiac rehab has been worthwhile and has shortened their recovery time. Comments range from “I feel much better,” “I have lost weight,” “I’m not as anxious,” “I’ve been able to decrease my medications,” “I have more energy,” “Cardiac Rehab has been a lifeline for me.”

For more information about Northern Cardiac Rehab call 336-783-8448.

Loyd Sams (left) and John Priddy exercise on the treadmills during their session of cardiac rehab at Northern Hospital. Cardiac Rehab is located on the third floor at Northern. Sams (left) and John Priddy exercise on the treadmills during their session of cardiac rehab at Northern Hospital. Cardiac Rehab is located on the third floor at Northern.

Northern Hospital of Surry County