Until a few decades ago, it was common practice to prescribe long-term rest to patients with heart disease. New insights into the treatment of these conditions have clearly shown that prolonged inactivity does more harm than good. Meanwhile, it has been clearly demonstrated that the risk of cardiovascular disease decreases in individuals who regularly engage in physical activity or sport.
Several hospitals, including Jessa Hospital, have an accredited cardiac rehabilitation center. During your hospital admission, a nurse will visit you to give you some more information and possibly enroll you in a program. If it is impossible for you to revalidate at an accredited cardiac rehabilitation center, you can also look for an independent physiotherapist. During your discharge, you will be given a letter with the necessary instructions for exercises. In the rehabilitation process, which begins from the first day of admission and continues for 6-12 weeks after discharge, not only your physical fitness will be sharpened. You will also be taught to avoid the risk factors that led to the heart disease. Team members will help you quit smoking if necessary, teach you how to eat healthy, and relaxation techniques are taught to reduce stress. If necessary, you will be referred to a smoking cessation program, the obesity program, etc.
During the hospital stay you will already start to make small efforts to prepare you for your return home. The exercise program starts with very light mobilization and is progressively adapted to your capabilities. The last exercise sessions before your discharge will take place in the rehabilitation room. At the time of your discharge, the physiotherapist will give you an appointment for continued exercise after your discharge. Depending on your heart condition, the first session may continue as early as a few days after your discharge.
The exercise program in a cardiac rehabilitation center
- The rehabilitation program includes up to 45 one-hour exercise sessions. The appropriate number of sessions is discussed for each patient based on the results of an exercise test. The frequency of the exercise sessions is usually 3 times a week. Young patients with good heart function can sometimes exercise 4 to 5 times a week.
- Exercise is performed under the guidance of experienced physiotherapists. The exercises are performed on the bicycle, treadmill, step machine, arm bike and you will exercise with weights. The program is individually adapted to your capabilities. In the beginning of rehabilitation, you will train with a heart rate monitor on to be in the right heart rate range and to detect any arrhythmias.
- During each session, your blood pressure and heart rate will be monitored and you can communicate any physical or other complaints to the physiotherapist. These problems are then discussed with the rehabilitation team.
- In case of more serious problems, the rehabilitation doctor will be notified immediately. All equipment for urgent care is available in the rehabilitation room. You can be assured that you will always be able to complete your exercise program safely.