Physiotherapy ‘Essential’ For Heart Rehabilitation

February 22, 2024 | 0 Comments

In recognition of Heart Month, physiotherapy is being touted as “an essential component of cardiac rehabilitation.”

An Evolution Healing Centre spokesperson said, “As February is recognized globally as Heart Month, it’s essential to take a moment to reflect on our heart health and maybe even actively consider action planning to for prevention of cardiovascular disease. Education and awareness is the key to maintaining a healthy heart and cardiovascular system, and physiotherapy can play a vital role in cardiac rehabilitation.

“Cardiac rehabilitation is a program designed to help patients recover from heart-related conditions such as heart attack [myocardial infarction], heart surgery, heart failure and can also help to manage high blood pressure [hypertension]. The goal of cardiac rehabilitation is to help patients regain strength, endurance, and confidence while reducing the risk of future heart problems. Often individuals leave the therapeutic programme moving better than they have for several years prior to their heart related diagnosis.

“Physiotherapy is an essential component of cardiac rehabilitation, as it can help patients recover faster, develop a home-based movement programme and improve their overall quality of life. Here are some of the ways that physiotherapy can support cardiac rehabilitation:

  • Exercise prescription: Physiotherapists can develop a customized exercise program to help patients improve their cardiovascular fitness, strength, endurance and movement safety. Pacing of activities, type of exercise, technique and timing are some of the areas for consideration here.
  • Monitoring: Measurement and tracking of vitals such as blood pressure, weight, heart rate, body composition, improvements in functional strength, safety of movement, pain with movement, and overall cardiovascular fitness has proven to help quality of life.
  • Education: Dietitians can educate patients about healthy lifestyle choices, such as maintaining a healthy diet in collaboration with other cardiac rehabilitation team members. Quitting smoking, managing stress, healthy habit facilitation, and symptom management plans are vital educational points commonly emphasised.

“Here are some tips to help you take care of your heart:

  1. Stop smoking: If you smoke, quitting can be one of the most significant steps towards improving your heart health. Smoking increases the risk of heart disease as a strong independent risk factor, and it’s never too late to quit.
  2. Check for atrial fibrillation and get regular health checks: Atrial fibrillation is a type of irregular heartbeat that can increase your risk of stroke and heart disease. It’s essential to get checked regularly, especially if you’re over the age of 40.
  3. Monitor and manage your blood pressure and blood sugar levels at home as directed by your rehabilitation team and GP; High blood pressure and high blood sugar, can increase the risk of heart disease and happen to be the most important risk factors for chronic kidney disease [CKD]. Regular monitoring with your GP is essential to help identify and manage these risk factors.
  4. Reduce alcohol intake: Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure, and blood sugar, derange body composition, disrupt sleep, and increase the risk of heart disease. Try to limit your alcohol intake and consider fasting from it with appropriate support as necessary.
  5. Eat a quality balanced diet: A quality diet can help lower your risk of heart disease. While standardised programmes could offer value, nothing is a substitute for booking a consultation with a dietitian and getting an individualized plan.
  6. Aim to do physical activity every day [something you enjoy]: Regular physical activity is well proven to reduce the risk of all causes of mortality including heart disease. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity every day; brisk walking, cycling, swimming and resistance exercise are the top choices. Doing something you enjoy will make it easier to develop and stick to the habit.
  7. Being aware of our own stressors, managing stress and getting adequate rest and recovery are vital for maintaining our health. Stress can have negative effects on our productivity, efficiency and overall energy levels. Regular relaxation habits such as; deep breathing, meditation, prayer, sitting in the park and making time for the kind of activities that bring joy and relaxation are rejuvenating. Additionally, getting adequate sleep is important for overall health and well-being. Aim to get a high quality of sleep each night by limiting screen time and establishing a bedtime routine to help you wind down and prepare for a good night’s rest.

“By following these tips you can help reduce your risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases. If you’ve recently experienced a heart-related condition, speak to your doctor about incorporating physiotherapy into your recovery plan.”

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