The Cardiac Rehabilitation Center at Hackensack Meridian Health Mountainside Medical Center provides medically supervised cardiac rehabilitation fitness programs for individuals with identified cardiovascular disease, as well as those with known risk factors. Patients who have undergone open heart surgery or are in congestive heart failure are prime candidates.
Candice Powell, exercise physiologist with the cardiac rehab program, informs us more about the program and how patients can benefit from participating.
“Patients come in to exercise while being monitored by a nurse and an exercise physiologist,” said Powell. “They work together to monitor heart rate and blood pressure levels to make sure everything looks healthy while the patient is exercising. If there are any issues like irregular heart rhythm or high blood pressure, our team can reach out to their cardiologist. With this type of communication, patients are able to push themselves while still being closely monitored.”
Patients are referred to the cardiac rehab program by their doctor or can join after they have been diagnosed with and/or experience a cardiac event. They spend a total of 30 minutes doing aerobic exercises with each exercise broken up into 10 minutes intervals. Warm ups and cool downs are performed as a group before and after each exercise session. Doctors typically recommend that patients participate in cardiac rehab sessions three times a week for 12 weeks, averaging 36 sessions.
While patients are exercising, the cardiac rehab team provides education around heart health. “We discuss topics like high blood pressure, what symptoms you should be aware of, what to do if you feel certain symptoms and what it feels like when you are having a heart attack,” said Powell. “Providing patients with this type of education helps them know exactly what is going on and how it needs to be managed.”
Along with blood pressure and heart rate, patients’ weight and abdominal girth is monitored throughout the program to track progression. “We not only want our patients to feel better, we want them to see what progress they have made,” said Powell.
The social aspect of cardiac rehab is something patients appreciate. “When you are in a program with someone who is going through something very similar to what you’re going through, you have a built in support system,” said Powell. “Patients form relationships with each other and often spend time with one another outside of cardiac rehab.”
Powell and the cardiac rehab team enjoy helping patients rediscover their confidence. “Patients often come to cardiac rehab feeling like they are a lost cause or like they will never feel as good as they did prior to their cardiac event,” said Powell. “We are here to lift their spirits and help them work through their issues. A little encouragement goes a long way.”
To learn more about the cardiac rehab program at Mountainside Medical Center, call 973-429-6199.