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Cardiac rehab important in fight against heart disease

Posted on: 02/01/2017

by Jason Nuzzo, cardiac rehab coordinator, Upbeat, BRMC

We’ve heard all the stories before. A 65-year-old male retires and suddenly has a heart attack, needing triple bypass. The 45-year-old business executive who runs four miles a day unexpectedly develops chest pain and needs two stents to unclog his coronary arteries. Or, the 81-year-old woman who has swollen ankles and is frequently short of breath has now been diagnosed with congestive heart failure.

These all too familiar scenarios play out in our lives every day. And, once all the surgeries are over and all the medicines are prescribed, what is the next step for these individuals on their road to recovery? Cardiac rehab.

BRMC’s Upbeat cardiac rehab program is a comprehensive exercise and education service that is intended to restore a patient with heart disease back to his/her full capabilities or beyond. Staff include exercise physiologists, physicians advisors, nurses, dietitians, social workers, cardiopulmonary specialists and CPR trained volunteers.

Over the years, studies have shown that cardiac rehab is as important in the fight against heart disease as any surgical procedure or prescribed medication. In fact, in 2012 the results of a 10-year study of patients with congestive heart failure revealed that participation in cardiac rehab improves aerobic capacity and quality of life scores, while decreasing hospital readmission rates and cardiac mortality.

February is National Heart Month and National Cardiac Rehabilitation Week begins on Valentine’s Day. During February, take the time to be more aware of your heart health and the importance of cardiac rehab as an intervention in the fight against heart disease.

For more information on BRMC’s cardiac rehab services, visit www.brmc.com.


Exercise is one of the best ways to help you reduce your risk for heart disease and can benefit you, even if you already have heart disease. Exercise can reduce blood pressure, improve your breathing and strengthen your heart. Be sure to talk with your doctor before starting and exercise program if you have a heart condition.

Quit smoking. Using tobacco of in any form is one of the most significant risk factors for developing heart disease.

Eat healthier. Following a healthy diet could lower your risk of heart disease by 25%. Eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish and lean meat. If you are overweight or obese, you don’t have to crash diet. Losing 5 to 10 percent of your weight improves cholesterol and lowers your blood sugar and blood pressure.

Reduce your use of alcohol. Although alcohol in moderation can actually be good for your heart, too much alcohol raises your blood pressure and increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Take your heart medicine. One study showed that 130,000 Americans die every year because they failed to take their heart medicines the way their doctors instructed.

Above all, pay attention to the signs and symptom of a heart attack.

  • Chest pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling of numbness
  • Nausea
  • Pain that travels down one or both arms
  • Jaw pain
  • Fatigue
  • Back pain
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling of fullness

If you experience any of these symptoms, call 911 right away. If you have any questions about your heart or have concerns, talk to your doctor.

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