Multiple studies have now shown that people who participate in cardiac rehabilitation programs are less likely to die than those who do not, even up to five or six years after a heart attack or cardiac procedure. Recently, a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology showed that people with heart failure who continue to exercise regularly are significantly less likely to be readmitted to the hospital or to die, even after ten years, compared with those who do not participate in supervised exercise programs. Why do we think this happens?
First of all, regular exercise improves blood vessel health and lowers the chemicals in the body that make the heart work harder. It also makes people feel better and improves their ability to be active and independent. Supervised and monitored exercise programs, like the Cardiac Rehabilitation and Wellness Programs at Helen Hayes Hospital, also help people take care of their health, including their nutrition, weight, and use of preventive medications. All of these things put together explain why people who attend cardiac rehabilitation live longer. Unfortunately, less than half of the people who would benefit from participating in cardiac rehabilitation actual enroll, creating a significant treatment gap.
Members of the Cardiopulmonary Team at Helen Hayes Hospital are working to improve this situation. As leaders in the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR), we have been working with national organizations to raise awareness about the benefits and underutilization of cardiac rehabilitation.
- Producing Fact Sheets to help patients and professionals understand the benefits of cardiac rehabilitation:
- Developing a power point for professionals to learn more about cardiac rehab:
- Speaking at national meetings, and
- Improving resources for patients on the AACVPR website.
To learn more about the Inpatient and Outpatient Cardiac Rehabilitation Programs at HHH – visit us at:
-Marjorie L. King, MD, MAACVPR, FACC
Director of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Services