Cardiac Rehabilitation is Underutilized

….Except if you are a patient at Regency Jewish Heritage, where we implemented a dedicated cardiac rehabilitation program long before people copied us and it became popular.

According to a recently published statement by the American Heart Association (AHA), numerous studies have shown that cardiac rehabilitation programs enhance the quality of life for older adults and increase their ability to remain independent. This is true whether hospitalization for heart disease has already occurred if the heart disease that has not yet become a crisis.

Unfortunately, the AHA writes, cardiac rehabilitation is not prescribed as often as it should be. Indeed, in many cases where hospitalization has not yet occurred, cardiac rehabilitation programs are not covered by insurance companies — even though this rehabilitation would be likely to reduce the chances of hospitalization in the future.

Cardiac rehabilitation programs provide exercise and strength training, as well as counseling for the stress that usually accompanies illness, and guidance for individuals with eating, smoking or drinking problems. These programs can help individuals improve their cardiac and general health, which in turn helps to lower their risk of a life-threatening coronary event.

It is common for doctors treating elderly patients, especially patients over age 70, and certainly those over age of 80, to stress the importance of taking medications and to overlook the possibility of cardiac rehabilitation. This is unfortunate, since cardiac rehabilitation is more likely to help people get back on their feet and return to their normal routine, than medication alone. Nevertheless, fewer than one third of the people eligible for cardiac rehabilitation are offered this care. This does not include the patients referred to above, who would benefit from cardiac rehabilitation but are not eligible according to current insurance guidelines.

The elderly population is growing rapidly, and is expected to double by the year 2050. Cardiac disease in its many different forms is among the leading causes of death and disability among the elderly population. And although there are many helpful — indeed life-saving —  medications for heart disease, these medications often come with serious risk factors. Dehydration, dizziness, fatigue, kidney damage, and liver damage, are just a few of the risk factors people face when using these medications. It is quite common for people who conscientiously pursue cardiac rehabilitation to require fewer medications. Further, the medications they continue to take can often be given in smaller dosages as their body becomes better conditioned.

Cardiac rehabilitation can benefit patients with almost any degree of fitness: both those who are relatively fit and those with complex and partially disabling issues, can benefit from cardiac rehabilitation.

Another issue is that it is extremely common for people to think that they don’t need cardiac rehabilitation, even if it is suggested by their doctor, since they already know that they need to exercise more and to eat healthier diet. But as we all know from personal experience, it is difficult to maintain the discipline required to exercise appropriately on a regular basis. Going to cardiac rehabilitation helps us ease into this discipline, providing us with wonderful benefits to our health, benefits that are likely to add years to our lives and smiles to our faces.

At the Regency Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers, we offer cardiac rehab in a patient-centered environment. This means always listening to our residents and patients and respecting their capabilities, while helping them to achieve maximum functionality and independence. And always maintaining the highest professional and quality standards in our staff and our facilities.  Our 25 years of excellent care have led to us being awarded a Best Nursing Homes award by US News & World Today, a 5-Star rating by USA Today, and an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau, among many other awards.

Contact us by clicking here to see which of our three facilities will best meet your needs or the needs of your loved one.

About Judah Gutwein, L.N.H.A.

As a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator, with additional years of experience as an Admissions and Marketing Director, I am intimately familiar with the challenges of building and maintaining a vibrant census in nursing and rehab facilities. Regency Nursing Centers has a well deserved reputation for excellence in healthcare and I'm extremely proud of our achievements! Thanks for reading our Regency Blog!
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