After experiencing and receiving treatment for a cardiac episode, you may need cardiac rehabilitation to help you fully recover and to reduce the risk of heart attack. Heart events affect not only the future of your heart, but every aspect of your health and well-being.
Cardiac rehabilitation helps you return to your daily life with a clear understanding of heart-healthy living. A typical cardiac rehabilitation program consists of 36 hourly sessions, and it combines physical and emotional therapies with multidisciplinary training and education about healthier living.
If you’re registered for a program, the most important tip to follow is consistent attendance. Patients who commit to will experience the benefits of cardiac rehabilitation. Unfortunately, only 27% of Medicare patients who sign up complete the full program. This is disheartening, considering the positive impact rehab has on patients recovering from cardiac episodes: Mortality rates drop by 4.2 percentage points and hospitalizations decrease by 34% when patients fully participate.
To speed up recovery and make the most of your cardiac rehabilitation process, here are three other tips you should follow:
1. Take your medications as prescribed.
Your cardiac rehab team’s main goal is to help you avoid another cardiac episode. One of the most important factors in this prevention is taking your prescribed medications exactly as directed. Failure to do so can dramatically increase your risks of suffering a second heart attack.
Your team will walk you through the daily medication routines and lifestyle changes that will improve the effectiveness of your medication. Before the program, your cardiac rehab team will ask for your medical history so that they can tailor the program to meet your needs.
2. Make lasting lifestyle changes.
Taking medication is only a step toward full recovery. A good cardiac rehab program will teach you how to live a heart-healthy life. This includes following a nutrition plan, ceasing smoking, exercising routinely, and managing stress.
To quickly return to daily activities, be sure to follow all training to the best of your ability. Let your team know if you are struggling to keep up or follow recommendations. Your cardiac rehabilitation center team will make sure the program matches your strength and stamina levels so that you don’t burn out or give up.
3. Mind your mental health.
Adjusting to life after a cardiac episode can be tough. Unfortunately, heightened levels of anxiety and depression can interfere with the success of your cardiac rehabilitation process. The presence of comorbid mental health issues like depression leads to patient dropout, which is why coping with them is a significant goal of inpatient cardiac rehabilitation.
Research shows that participation in cardiac rehab alleviates symptoms of post-event depression. Most cardiac rehabilitation programs take place in a hospital or skilled nursing facility so that the available doctors, nurses, and caregivers can help patients overcome mental health barriers in healthy, productive ways.
Life after a cardiac episode won’t be the same as it was before, but registering for and sticking to a cardiac rehabilitation program can help you adjust to heart-healthy living. By following these tips, you can make the most of your experience and see the benefits of cardiac rehabilitation for years to come.