Health professionals from a variety of fields help patients manage a complex medical course during a 12-36 week individualized program.
“We talk about everything from risk factor modification, including nutrition, diabetes, stress and weight management to the importance of exercise, and smoking cessation and life counseling,” explained Jean Cacciabaudo, MD, chief of cardiology at Southside Hospital. “It’s about living and getting your life back.”
A variety of counseling, along with peer support, helps to make this program work. “After someone has a cardiac event, his or her emotional world is rocked,” she explained. “They have an abrupt confrontation with their own mortality, usually out of the blue, and now they are a survivor.” Patients often get depressed, she added, but rehab is a great place to stabilize this emotional roller coaster, since there is an entire community of people that have had very similar experiences. Experienced staff, all of whom are certified in advanced cardiac life support, includes a physician, nurse practitioner and exercise physiologist. They help to maintain an upbeat approach and share that burden.
Approximately two to four weeks after discharge, patients may enroll in the program, but must be referred by a physician. An initial assessment of medical history and risk factors also includes a patient’s level of exercise capacity. A “prescription” is then written for that individual, to tailor the program to match a patient’s unique needs. “For example, if they have diabetes, we connect them with a nutritionist that comes in to do diabetic counseling,” Dr. Cacciabaudo explained.
The exercise portion of the program includes a one-hour circuit with approximately six to eight patients using aerobic equipment, such as exercise bikes, treadmills, biodex machines (similar to recumbent steppers) and light weight training. Each patient is hooked up to an EKG monitor to record heart activity and blood pressure is also monitored. Throughout the entire program, education takes place.
Comprehensive care includes any needed referrals for additional services such as physical therapy, balance and vestibular rehabilitation, nutrition, psychological counseling, and smoking cessation. “This allows us to provide a complete continuum of care for our patients,” she added.
The Cardiac Rehab Program is currently available only at Southside Hospital, but the goal is to eventually expand it to other facilities within the health system. “This is a great program, really hands on, and a very upbeat experience,” Dr. Cacciabaudo said. For more information about the Cardiac Rehab Program call: 631-968-3400.
Contact: Brian Mulligan