The Medical Center of Aurora is just one hospital in Colorado that offers a cardiac rehab program to its patients.
"Everybody hears about patients coming in with heart attacks, needing bypass surgery, needing stents and all that," cardiologist Dr. John Ord said. "That gets people out of the spot they are in with arteries being blocked, but it doesn't get to the part where it helps take care of risk factors."
Medical experts say cardiac rehab can help patients with major lifestyle changes that need to be made in order to live longer and fully recover from a heart attack.
"You want to combat heart disease with everything you've got, everything from dietary intervention, exercise, stress management, because unfortunately heart disease is not going away," Keith Terrio, an exercise physiologist, said.
Medical staff at cardiac rehab programs supervise patients as they exercise, checking their heart rates and blood pressure frequently. The staff is there to intervene if the exercise proves to be too much for a patient recovering from a heart attack. They also aim to educate patients about nutrition to ensure a healthy lifestyle at home.
Doctors typically recommend that patients who have had an angioplasty or have had a stent inserted into a coronary artery, should start a cardiac rehab program within a week. But for those who have had more invasive procedures, such as open heart bypass surgery, rehab should be started after a month of recovery time.
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