Do you have a history of heart attack, heart surgery, valve surgery, angioplasty, arrhythmia, angina or other heart conditions? A previous cardiovascular incident puts you at risk for future problems and even an early death. Cardiac rehabilitation can improve your quality of life and reduce mortality risk by 50%. Even if you have heart diseases such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes, cardiac rehabilitation can improve quality of life through: increased cardiac function, increased exercise tolerance, decreased cardiovascular symptoms, reduced levels of anxiety, depression and stress; and maintaining independence in activities of daily living. A meta-analysis done by Lawler et al. (2011) concluded exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation reduces reinfarction, cardiac mortality, cardiovascular mortality, and all-cause mortality with exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation.
What is cardiac rehabilitation?
North American guidelines for cardiac rehabilitation include moderate-to-vigorous aerobic endurance exercise in adjunct with resistance training to improve quality of life and independence. Different cardiac centres in and around the city of Toronto provide exceptional programs for cardiac patients. Most programs start with a medical and family history questionnaire, a monitored treadmill or stationary bike exercise to determine current cardiovascular fitness level. A resting echocardiogram may also be used to determine readiness for exercise.
Based on your current level of fitness, you will be given a specific exercise prescription that will include the intensity, duration, frequency, and type of exercise. Every week, the physiotherapist will progress the intensity or duration as you adapt to the exercises and increase your aerobic fitness.
Cardiac rehabilitation has significant effects on cardiac patients, leading to fewer visits to the emergency department, fewer hospitalizations, doctor visits and lower drug costs. An article by Alter et al. (2017) examined the relationship between cardiac rehabilitation participation and health service expenditures in Ontario, Canada. They found only 30% of eligible patients completed the cardiac rehab program. When compared to the 70% who weren’t referred, didn’t show up, or dropped out of the program, patients who completed the program cost the healthcare system nearly $3,000 less per year. Attending and finishing a cardiac program will not only improve your health, independence and longevity, but also decrease the strain of our healthcare system!
If you or a loved one has sustained a cardiac event or is at risk for a cardiac event, ask your family physician about these cardiac rehabilitation programs and be cleared to start exercising. Give us a call at 905-264-0442 to get started on a custom exercise program to start your recovery to better quality of life!
Efficacy of exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation post–myocardial infarction: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Lawler, Patrick R. et al. American Heart Journal, Volume 162, Issue 4, 571 – 584.e2
Relationship between cardiac rehabilitation participation and health service expenditures within a universal health care system. Alter, David A. et al. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Volume 92, Issue 4, 500 – 511.
Written by: Danette Lam MScPT