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Cardiac Rehab - The Gift That Keeps on Giving

It’s the Christmas season when people turn their focus toward giving and receiving gifts.

My husband and I have gotten to the age when we no longer try to guess what the other

person might like as a gift, but instead, we just buy whatever we want or need whenever we

want or need it—which kind of takes the fun out of gift giving. Isn’t it a wonderful expression of

care and love to figure out what another person wants or needs, wrap it up in shiny paper with a great big bow, then watch their face light up as they open it because you knew exactly what would please them? When you think about it, Cardiac Rehab is just like that – the perfect gift for someone who has had something go wrong with their heart.

People who have had a cardiac event such as heart attack, open heart surgery, valve replacement or repair, heart failure, or cardiac arrest, can really benefit from the gift of cardiac rehab. They may not realize, as they consider how to get back to normal after such an episode, but someone has packaged up everything they want or need to improve their cardiovascular health and feel good again. An exercise therapist has thoughtfully prepared an exercise program designed especially for you, an RN has tied together their years of cardiac experience to help you understand how your heart problem has affected you and what to expect as you heal and recover. A dietician offers clever secrets of how to enjoy a healthier diet and helps you learn how eating the right foods can be fun and help you feel great. Occupational therapy adds their skills to teach you how to relax and understand why managing stress is so important to your heart health. A friendly pharmacist contributes the finishing touch as they teach you

about all those new medications, what to do if you miss a dose, and what the possible side effects might be. When you wrap all this up with a positive atmosphere, great exercise equipment, upbeat music, and other caring hearts, you have put together the greatest gift you could possibly give to someone with an ailing heart.

Recently, as we said goodbye on graduation day, a patient said, “I came here with a bad heart but I’m leaving with a sad one”. Over the years I have been blessed to watch people as they unwrap the gift of cardiac rehab. Their faces light up as they find they can do more than they ever thought possible and feel better than they ever dreamed. They may have started out reluctantly—not realizing all the benefits, or how much fun they would have, or consider the new friendships they would make, but once someone realizes how good the program makes them feel, how it can extend their life expectancy and lower their risk of future cardiac events, they become very attached to the staff and program which makes it hard to leave.

For someone with heart disease, there truly is a gift that keeps on giving. So this year,

give yourself the gift of cardiac rehab, and enjoy the wonderful benefits of a healthy heart for

many years to come.

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