Medication and surgical procedures alone do not cure heart disease. Without important lifestyle changes, arteries will become clogged again, leading to further heart damage. Many believe that after a cardiac procedure or surgery, they are cured. They feel much better because the heart is receiving more oxygen. But heart disease can be chronic and progressive. Eight to 10 years after bypass surgery, blockages tend to return.
How Cardiac Conditioning Can Help
If you have recently been diagnosed with heart disease, you may feel confused, anxious, or even angry. The good news is that you don't have to fight heart disease alone. You can learn the skills and receive the support you need by joining a cardiac conditioning program in your community. Your physician can tell you if a referral to a cardiac conditioning program is appropriate for you.
Cardiac conditioning helps heart patients of any age recover, resume normal activities, and reduce the chance of further heart problems. These programs involve medically supervised exercise, diet modification, stress reduction, smoking cessation, medication management, and recognizing signs and symptoms.
Who Can Benefit
Men and women who have had angina, heart failure, a heart attack, angioplasty, heart bypass, or valve surgery, or even a heart transplant will feel better and get stronger. They'll also learn healthy habits and lower the risk of further problems. Patients involved in a cardiac conditioning program reduce their risk of future heart problems and increase their life expectancy. Participating in such a program after a heart attack reduces mortality by 25 to 30 percent.
Cardiac conditioning reduces the anxiety heart patients feel as they start an exercise program. In a medically supervised program, healthcare professionals help you recognize limits and set goals. They can clearly see your progress and help boost your confidence. You also get the support of a group of peers who've been through similar experiences.
Phase I – Phase I of Cardiac Conditioning begins during hospitalization. A cardiac nurse visits you to provide education and nutrition counseling in preparation for discharge. You may also receive physical therapy during your hospital stay.
Phase II – Phase II is a 4 to 12 week exercise program, with three sessions per week. Exercise sessions include warm-up walking or biking, aerobic exercise on treadmills and other machines, resistance training, and cool-down stretching. In small group sessions, you receive heart monitoring, individualized care, and frequent blood pressure checks. Patients with cardiovascular disease can safely exercise in Phase II as early as two to six weeks after a heart attack or heart surgery.
Phase III – In Phase III, you maintain cardiovascular fitness through prescribed exercise. Candidates for Phase III include individuals who have a prior history of heart disease, those who are at high risk of developing heart disease, and graduates of Phase II Cardiac Conditioning.
After you are referred by your doctor and your insurance coverage is reviewed, an initial Cardiac Conditioning appointment is scheduled. Before you begin Phase II or III, a rehabilitation specialist will meet with you to discuss your exercise and education needs, perform a health assessment, and answer questions. Cardiac Conditioning nurses and exercise specialists will then design an individualized exercise program.
Progress reports are sent regularly to the referring cardiologist and primary care physician. Each patient remains under the care of his or her physician during the course of the program.
For more information, call the Cardiac Conditioning office:
John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek (925) 947-5254
John Muir Medical Center, Concord Campus (925) 674-2200
John Muir Outpatient Center, Brentwood (925) 308-8140