Cardiac Rehab: Restoring Health and Well-Being

Posted on: February 23, 2016

You’ve had a cardiac event – possibly a heart attack, coronary artery bypass surgery or angina. Now you’re back home. How do you regain your strength, energy and confidence, while reducing the risk of a recurrence? The answer is: cardiac rehabilitation. Find out from the experienced Master’s-level exercise physiologists at Northern Westchester Hospital’s (NWH) certified Cardiac Rehabilitation Program how cardiac rehab can speed your recovery while significantly improving your health and quality of life.

Nurse With Patient During Health CheckCardiac rehabilitation, explains Jenna Angelucci, is a medically-supervised, individualized program of exercise and education that helps you recover faster from heart disease and acquire the strength to resume a full life. You are a candidate if you’ve suffered a cardiovascular event such as heart attack, bypass surgery, angina, heart valve repair or replacement, coronary stenting or heart failure. NWH’s outpatient cardiac rehab program requires a physician’s prescription, and besides the core training component, includes counseling in nutrition, stress management and meditation, as well as education in heart disease prevention.

Benefits of Cardiac Rehab

Perhaps surprisingly, a key benefit of cardiac rehabilitation is restored confidence. That emotion has as much impact as do medical issues on a person’s ability to resume an active, rewarding life. Some patients are initially afraid to do anything,” notes Leone. “A pain in the chest area makes them terrified another cardiac event is happening. They’re afraid to work, to drive, to leave the area where their doctors practice.” These fears typically evaporate after training – indeed, even during training, as patients see undeniable evidence of their gains in strength and stamina. “Walking uphill on the treadmill, riding the bike, using the rowing machine which they’ve never, ever done, gives them great confidence,” explains Angelucci.

Following her balloon angioplasty, Martha G. of Mount Kisco, had several dozen cardiac rehab sessions at NWH’s state-of-the-art gym at Chappaqua Crossing. Though she already walked for fitness, it was through the program that Martha learned about truly appropriate exercise. “I wasn’t doing enough to get my heart rate up. I could have been doing more,” she says. Today, after gaining strength and shedding significant weight, she says, “I feel better than I’ve ever felt in my life.”

What happens when you enter NWH’s cardiac rehab program?

A personalized exercise regimen is designed based on an extensive health history and your physical condition. You’ll have up to 36 training sessions, depending upon your insurance, during which you receive continuous EKG monitoring and close supervision by exercise physiologists. “We’re watching your heart rate and cardiac rhythm the whole time, till after cool-down,” says Leone. “Your blood pressure is taken before, during and after exercise.” Starting off at 30 minutes, you’ll work up to between 42 minutes and an hour of training, with weight training added when appropriate. A physician is always nearby and can be summoned instantly.

In choosing a cardiac rehab program, look for accreditation, convenient scheduling, insurance coverage and the expertise and experience of staff.  Whether you’ve had a heart attack, coronary bypass or other cardiac event, “you are basically getting a second chance after your cardiac event,” notes Angelucci. “So it’s wise to take advantage of all the benefits of cardiac rehabilitation.”

For more information on the NWH Cardiac Rehabilitation Center at Chappaqua Crossing, visit www.nwhRehab.org or call 914.458.8700.