Updates from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Hospital Foundation
While many of us know February is National Heart Month, it is a lesser known fact that this week is National Cardiac Rehab Awareness Week. Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital’s (SNMH) cardiac rehab program has offered assistance to thousands of cardiac patients throughout the years.
Cardiac rehab is a medically supervised program designed to improve cardiovascular health for those that have experienced a heart attack, heart failure, angioplasty (surgical repair or unblocking of a blood vessel, especially a coronary artery), or heart surgery. While cardiac rehab will not change your past heart health, it can help improve its future.
Cardiac rehab program benefits include reducing the chances of a second heart attack or need for heart surgery. It can help lessen chest pains and in some cases the need for medications. It also helps to control risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol and for many cardiac patients weight loss occurs.
While cardiac rehab programs may vary, most include regular exercise, a heart healthy diet, medical therapy, stress reducing techniques, and for smokers, strategies to help kick this harmful habit.
Most cardiac rehab programs have three phases. Each are designed to meet the needs of individual patients and includes risk-factor education and counseling, emotional support, and exercise activities. Patients are referred to a cardiac rehab program by a cardiologist or physician.
Phase one which begins at the hospital is carefully monitored by a member of the cardiac rehab team. Based on individual circumstances, this includes supervised exercise. Nearly all of the cardiac and the patient monitoring equipment has been purchased by SNMH Foundation and the SNMH Auxiliary throughout the years.
How long one remains in the phase one cardiac rehab program depends on the cardiac health of the individual. While at the hospital, cardiac rehab patients are monitored by exercise physiologists or nurses through the use of telemetry monitors. Some cardiac rehab programs offer group education.
Eventually individuals graduate to phase two than three which are respectively an outpatient and maintenance program. This is generally determined by your cardiac rehab team and your cardiologist’s recommendation.
Studies of this medically supervised program consistently show advantages. According to John Hopkins Medicine, a review of 128 studies involving nearly 100,000 people that had a heart attack, angioplasty, or heart failure found that those that participated in a cardiac rehab program were far less likely to be hospitalized and had a much better quality of life overall than those that did not. Other studies found lower rates of death in people who attended cardiac rehab sessions.
While SNMH’s cardiac rehab program has had to pivot during COVID-19, patient care for cardiac patients continues to be a top priority. The department looks forward to a future time when a full range of cardiac rehab services can be offered again. During this special week, we honor those SNMH employees that bring heart to those that need it most in our community.
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