If you have already been treated for cardiac disease or have been told that you are at risk, you would be concerned about finding ways to maintain a healthy heart. Cardiac Rehabilitation Programmes are designed to help you reduce the risks of subsequent cardiac disease or disability. In response to your specific needs, a comprehensive Cardiac Rehabilitation Programme would be developed, which would include exercises and cardiac disease education and information. Enrolling in such a programme, will help your heart and improve your general health. Your doctor will advise you about starting on such a programme. You can join either as an in-patient or an out-patient.
Even though you may not be able to see it or even feel it, coronary artery disease (the common form of cardiac disease) is progressive. If you do not change some habits or lifestyles, chances are that your coronary artery disease will get worse. Even cardiac surgery does not repair the damage done to your heart nor do medications cure the problem. But if you pay attention to the warnings from your heart, there are precautions that you can take towards protecting your heart from further damage.
Learning about coronary artery disease can help you understand why it is important to reduce risk factors. Risk factors are traits or habits that make a person more likely to develop a disease. Some risk factors cannot be changed (like old age or family history) but others can be controlled (like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.).
By talking to people close to you, you can get their support as you start reducing your risk. When you enter a Cardiac Rehabilitation Programme, a specialist can help you set up a personalized exercise programme. You can further reduce your risk by changing your diet and reducing stress. The Cardiac Rehabilitation Programme would help you with appropriate information in these areas.
It comes from all directions, and some of us handle it better than others. Since stress makes the heart work harder, try to find ways to relieve the pressure you feel when stressed. One of the best remedies for the tension and stress is doing regular physical exercise. A change in lifestyle with some time for leisure and hobbies also helps fight stress.
Diet: Your diet may be contributing to your coronary artery disease. Some of the major culprits are foods rich in cholesterol, saturated fat and high in salt.
Smoking: Causes the heart to beat faster and needs more oxygen. At the same time, it narrows your arteries so that less blood and oxygen get to the heart muscle. The best thing you can do for your heart is not to smoke.
Stress: Stress is defined as any pressure from the outside that makes us feel tense.
Diabetes: People with diabetes are more likely to have heart disease. If you have diabetes, make every effort to keep your blood sugar under control.
Limit your fat and cholesterol: Cholesterol is a part of every human cell. However, when cholesterol sticks to the walls of arteries, it creates a waxy build-up that clogs your arteries. As a result, less blood reaches the heart and increases the risk of adverse cardiac problems. Saturated fats raise the levels of cholesterol in the blood. The higher your blood cholesterol level, the higher your heart disease risks. In order to lower cholesterol levels, set up a goal to avoid foods high in cholesterol and saturated fat, like whole milk products, egg yolks, red meat, coconut, palm oil and "ghee".
Limit Salt: Just as foods rich in saturated fats can be unhealthy, food high in salt content can also create problems for your heart. The culprit is the sodium in the salt. It causes the body to retain water and sodium increases the volume of blood and may raise your blood pressure. If you are using medications for high blood pressure, eating salt can make them less effective. Salt intake can also worsen heart failure with fluid retention in the lungs and body.
You have a greater chance of helping your heart work better if you follow an exercise programme. Regular exercise increases your endurance, lowers blood pressure and blood cholesterol, relieves stress and helps control your weight. The higher your blood cholesterol, blood pressure and stress level, the higher your risk for heart disease. A cardiac exercise programme may begin right in the hospital under the supervision of your doctor and a cardiac rehabilitation therapist. As an out-patient, you can continue the programme at Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH). Later you might want to continue exercising in a different setting such as a fitness centre. Your doctor may prescribe an exercise programme for you to follow at home. Exercise, nutritional counselling, medical counselling and family support; all work together in the Cardiac Rehabilitation Programme to help you regain full confidence in your cardiac health and overall fitness.
Physicians recommend and prescribe the Cardiac Rehabilitation Programme for people with:
While most of the people in the Cardiac Rehabilitation Programme are recovering from heart conditions, others can also participate to improve fitness levels and prevent heart problems in the first place.