Heart disease is our country's number one killer. Keeping it in check often means making total lifestyle changes, and new guidelines mean more people can now get help making those changes.
Getting your heart to bounce back after a cardiac event is a step by step process. Once you get immediate care in the hospital, out-patient cardiac rehabilitation can get you on the right track. Dr. Craig Gernon, a cardiologist with Cotton-O'Neil Heart Center, says it includes exercise and classes to learn about the heart. He says he believes the more a patient knows the better. He says classes also include dietary management and stress management, the psychiatric part of heart disease.
Patients in the Cotton-O'Neil Heart Center's cardiac rehab program come three times a week for three months. When it's over, it's hoped they've developed life-long healthy habits. Dr. Gernon says by focusing on prevention and the risk factors that led to heart disease in the first place, people will stay healthy and live longer.
But not everyone's been able to take advantage of the lessons. In the past, Medicare only covered cardiac rehab for those who suffered a heart attack, had bypass surgery, or developed a chronic angina - chest pain. Recently, they expanded the coverage to those who underwent angioplasty, heart valve surgery or a transplant.
The Cotton-O'Neil Heart Center's cardiac rehab program recently earned National Certification from the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. To learn more about the Heart Center's services, go to www.stormontvail.org.