If someone has suffered from a heart attack, heart failure or heart disease, what happens next? That’s where the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at the UF Health Cardiovascular Center – Jacksonville steps in.
“Cardiac rehab is a comprehensive exercise and rehabilitation program for patients that have had a cardiac event like bypass surgery, stent placement, heart failure or heart attack,” said Ken Brannon, exercise physiologist and manager of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program.
Typically, cardiac rehabilitation is physician referred, and provides heart-monitored exercise training in a supervised, outpatient setting, three times a week for 12 weeks. This includes weekly education to reduce risk factors for heart disease. After completing the program, individuals may continue in the program's fitness maintenance program to prevent another cardiac event.
“We’re big believers in ‘knowing your numbers,’” said Mayra Lopez, registered nurse in the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program. The “Know Your Numbers” campaign, led by the American Heart Association, advocates that everyone know their blood pressure, total cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, blood sugar and body mass index. These numbers are important to know and share with your health care provider to determine whether you are at risk cardiovascular disease along with chest pain, heart attack and stroke.
“We do a lot of education,” Lopez said. “The great thing about it is we get the family members involved, and sometimes the family has more questions than the patient concerning what they can eat and other aspects of nutrition management.”
The multidisciplinary rehabilitation team includes UF Health cardiologist and medical director Robert Percy, MD, registered cardiac nurses, exercise physiologists, registered dietitians, pharmacists and a diabetes educator.
“The main focus is risk factor management and then prevention of a second attack,” Brannon said. “A lot of it is exercise, but much of it is behavior modification.”
Contributing factors to cardiovascular disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a lack of regular exercise, obesity and diabetes. The cardiac rehabilitation team works with patients to recognize and change behaviors that may have contributed to the first cardiac event. The program assists patients with blood pressure control, diabetes management, improved conditioning and stamina, reduction in cholesterol, smoking cessation, stress management and weight management.
“I think a lot of people think that patients come here and exercise while monitored, but that’s just the one side of the coin,” Lopez said. “The other is education, and we teach them a lot so they don’t have a second cardiac episode. That’s the goal.”
For more information about the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, call 904-244-9120 or visit UFHealthJax.org/ cardiac-rehabilitation.