Cardiac Rehab - Post Intervention Activity

02 February, 2020
Cardiac rehabilitation is a series of treatments that a patient who's suffered a heart attack undergoes in order to be able to go back to their daily routine. In today's article, we'll tell you what it entitles and who can do it.

Cardiac rehab is an established form of active follow-up treatment for people who either had a myocardial infarction or underwent heart surgery. There are various treatments for each case.

In short, cardiac rehab is a mixture of health education, exercise, and emotional support. The objective here is to improve a cardiac patient’s quality of life so that they can go back to their old activities as soon and as normally as possible.

In addition, as a further objective, a person must be aware of the life habits they must modify so as not to have further cardiac problems. One could say that cardiac rehab education is more important than the exercises that come with it.

Many cardiology associations around the world recommend rehab programs. There’s no doubt about the effectiveness of the latter. Scientific studies show these can reduce the risk of subsequent future chest pain and heart attacks in these patients.

Who can benefit from cardiac rehab?

Cardiac rehab programs aren’t for any patient with ischemic heart disease. A patient must meet certain requisites in order to qualify and benefit from the program.

In any case, there’s consensus in regard to the considerations for those who would benefit the most:

  • Heart failure: This is a pathology where the heart doesn’t have enough strength to pump blood into the circulatory system. It affects a person’s daily life because common activities aren’t easy for them.
  • Angina pectoris: This is the recurrent pain in the chest caused by not enough blood reaching the heart. Cardiac rehab is essential to keep it from turning into an acute myocardial infarction.
  • Acute myocardial infarction: This is a serious and often deadly pathology. Cardiac cell death occurs due to an excessive decrease in blood flow to the heart.
  • Peripheral arterial disease: This appears when arteriosclerosis clogs the arteries in the upper or lower limbs. So, the risk factors are similar to those of ischemic heart disease.
  • Cardiological surgeries: When there’s no solution other than surgical intervention, a patient must undergo cardiac rehabilitation to be able to go back to their old life.
  • Heart transplant: This is the last resort in cardiac pathology. Even though it isn’t frequent, scientific progress allows it to be an option for patients in rough shape who have no other alternative.
A person with a heartache.

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Phases and equipment used

There are three phases in cardiac rehab, the last two of which correspond to the exercise and education program. They are:

  • Hospitalization or diagnosis: The first phase is to characterize patients. The medical team determines whether a person can benefit from the rehab program after careful evaluation and studies and evaluation. Thus, they either admit them or not.
  • Active program: A patient goes into a cardiac rehab program and begins their training plan, psychological interviews, health education, and medical monitoring for pharmacological control. This phase lasts as much as it needs to, according to each case.
  • Discharge: The third phase is a discharge process that happens when the rehab team is convinced that a patient can continue with the change of lifestyle on their own in their usual daily environment.

These phases come with, and are guided by, a multidisciplinary team. The professionals who most commonly intervene are:

  • Cardiologist: This professional defines the plan and administers pharmacological treatment.
  • Nurse: In general, nurses guide the everyday part of the program and keep a proper record of any facts that pertain to it.
  • Kinesiologist/physiotherapist: This professional is in charge of the exercises and their supervision.
  • Physiatrist: This one develops the exercises along with a physiotherapist.
  • Psychologist: This person attends to the emotional factor of a patient in cardiac rehab and supports the emotional process.
A lab technician monitoring a man during exercise.

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What exactly happens during cardiac rehab?

As we said at the beginning, cardiac rehab isn’t just a program of kinesiological exercises, but rather health education. Thus, there are several areas to it, among them:

  • Medical assessment: A medical body determines which form of rehab is most appropriate and also a drug prescription for the post-cardiac event process to improve internal parameters.
  • Exercises: This is an exercise program for a patient to follow as it improves their heart muscle. They can vary and range from pedaling a stationary bike to doing controlled weightlifting.
  • Health education: The most important part of the program is for patients to change their lifestyle. They receive education about good eating habits and physical activity. They’re also taught how to manage stress, when to go to see the doctor, what practices are harmful, and how they must control other diseases that could complicate their heart condition.

Thanks for reading.

  • Gómez-González, A., et al. “Recomendaciones sobre rehabilitación cardíaca en la cardiopatía isquémica de la Sociedad de Rehabilitación Cardio-Respiratoria (SORECAR).” Rehabilitación 49.2 (2015): 102-124.
  • Campos González, Víctor. “Fisioterapia en la Prevención Secundaria de la Rehabilitación Cardiaca Revisión bibliográfica narrativa.” (2017).
  • Centeno, Erika Hütt, and Juliana Salas Segura. “Rehabilitación cardíaca para el médico general.” Revista Clínica de la Escuela de Medicina de la Universidad de Costa Rica 5.2 (2015): 30-36.