By Cheryl Ricer | Photos by The Teal Album
Your heart health is primary to your overall health. Your heart beats about 2.5 billion times over your lifetime, pumping millions of gallons of blood to every part of your body, distributing oxygen, fuel, hormones, other compounds, and a multitude of essential cells. It also carries away waste products such as carbon dioxide. When the heart stops, essential functions fail, some almost instantly. This can increase the risk of cardiac events, such as heart attacks.
Baylor Scott & White Cardiac Rehabilitation – Rowlett is a customized outpatient program offering exercise and education to patients who have experienced heart conditions such as heart attack, heart failure, peripheral artery disease, and angina. The program also helps patients in their recovery from coronary artery bypass surgery, angioplasty and stents, heart transplant, and heart valve repair or replacement. The facility is located within Baylor Scott & White Medical Center — Lake Pointe which is located at 6800 Scenic Drive in Rowlett.
“Whether you have chronic cardiac conditions, a stent, or bypass surgery,” said Andrew Berggren, MD, cardiac rehabilitation medical director on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center — Lake Pointe, “our program is specifically designed to help heart patients improve their health through monitored exercise training and education in terms of their diet and medications.”
Cardiac rehabilitation often involves exercise training, emotional support, and education about lifestyle changes to reduce your heart disease risk with a specific goal of helping patients establish a plan to regain strength, preventing the condition from worsening, reducing the risk of future heart problems, and improving overall health and quality of life.
“Baylor Scott & White — Lake Pointe cardiac rehabilitation patients benefit from our multi-disciplinary team,” said Supervisor Lauryn Blanton, MS-EP, CCRP. “Our facility has doctors, nurses, exercise physiologists, and monitor technicians who assist with program operations, patient care, and workload.”
Your treatment team will work with you to set individualized goals for your cardiac rehabilitation program that meet your specific needs. In some cases, a case manager will track your care. Monitored physical activity increases the efficiency of your heart and strengthens your muscles, helping you return more quickly and confidently to your normal lifestyle.
What to Expect
First-time patients will typically come in for a baseline measurement and assessment of their current status. You will meet with a nurse to discuss your medical history, medications, and the importance of adherence to a schedule. An exercise physiologist will conduct a movement analysis to get a baseline measurement of your strength, range of motion, and balance to help prescribe a plan tailored specifically for you. Ongoing evaluations can help your team keep track of your progress over time.
During your evaluation, your healthcare team will assess your responses to increased intensity to exercise to ensure positive results. This can help your team customize a cardiac rehabilitation program to your needs, ensuring its safety and effectiveness.
“During activity sessions,” explained Dr. Berggren, “all patients have their hearts monitored. For many, it is the first time they’ve participated in a structured exercise program, so they feel very confident knowing that someone is looking out for them and monitoring their heart rate. For some patients, it may be their first time on a treadmill, so having monitors and supportive staff in place not only increases their confidence, but also helps ensure their compliance with the program. They feel secure and assured being active with a caring, knowledgeable staff looking out for them.”
In the program, you’ll also learn to take your own pulse, determine appropriate exercise intensity, and how to continue your routine with a maintenance plan at the completion of the program.
“Our program is not a cookie-cutter program,” said Lauryn. “While there are some shared elements, like a common doctor or nurse, each patient’s program is tailored specifically to their level of ability and their personal goals.”
Participants will typically spend 6 to 12 weeks in cardiac rehabilitation, attending three sessions per week. Your program length depends on your attendance, recovery progress, and your doctor’s recommendation. Activities may include a combination of cardiovascular training, such as a treadmill or a recumbent bicycle, along with resistance training bands and weights. Your healthcare team will teach you proper exercise techniques, including warmups and cool downs. Even if you’ve never exercised before, your team will make sure you are moving at a comfortable pace and that everything you are doing is appropriate for you.
While improving cardiovascular health is a primary focus, cardiac rehabilitation is a multifaceted program that aims to address multiple elements of a patient’s overall quality of life. Additional components such as tobacco cessation, blood lipid management, medication adherence, diabetes management, and psychosocial management are also addressed as part of a patient’s care plan, as appropriate. Due to the severity of cardiovascular events, patients may struggle with feelings of depression, anxiety, or stress. Cardiac rehab professionals are trained in how to help patients navigate these emotions, establish effective coping techniques, and identify the best way to implement these techniques. Patients can also meet others in the program who may have experienced a similar situation. This allows patients to begin fostering a support network that can help them heal.
While starting a new exercise plan is challenging for everyone, especially if you’re overcoming a heart issue, you’ll benefit in the long run. Although you have an entire team of committed and qualified professionals to monitor, assist, and advise you, keep in mind that you are the most important member of your team. Cardiac rehabilitation can guide you through fear and anxiety as you return to an active lifestyle with more motivation and energy to do the things you enjoy.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with a heart problem or are recovering from a heart procedure or surgery, you may be wondering what is next in your recovery. Cardiac rehabilitation will put you on the road to recovering your health and strength. Insurance and Medicare often cover the costs of cardiac rehabilitation. To learn more, visit BSWHealth.com or call (972) 520-8000.
Physicians provide clinical services as members of the medical staff at one of Baylor Scott & White Health’s subsidiary, community, or affiliated medical centers and do not provide clinical services as employees or agents of Baylor Scott & White Health or those medical centers.