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Cardiac Rehabilitation

Patients with heart conditions are supported through their healing process with monitored exercise, risk-factor modification and education by Redwood Area Hospital’s cardiac rehabilitation team.

Patients who benefit from a cardiac rehab program are those who have had chest pain (angia pectoris), heart attack (myocardial infarction), cardiovascular surgery (bypass or valve replacement), coronary artery disease or coronary angioplasty/stent placement.

Cardiac Rehabilitation is an outpatient, hospital-based program prescribed by your physician. A physician’s referral is necessary to participate in cardiac rehab.

Program goals:

  • To increase patient’s ability to perform daily activities of work and leisure with more energy and less fatigue.
  • To provide education regarding cardiovascular disease and risk factors associated with its development
  • To help patients and their families deal with the emotional aspects of cardiovascular disease

Staff
The cardiac rehab team includes specially trained registered nurses who are certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support. The program is guided by Dr. Gregory McCallum.

Education and Support

Education and support sessions available to the patient and their families include:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Risk Factor Modification
  • Dietary Modifications
  • Medications
  • Intimacy & Heart Disease
  • Family Concerns/Spouse Support
  • Stress and Relaxation
  • Cholesterol and Lipids
  • Exercise and Recovery

Monitored Exercise

Exercise sessions are held three times per week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for one hour. Each session includes:

  • Flexibility, endurance, and cool down exercises
  • Continuous ECG monitoring
  • Blood pressure recorded before, during and after exercise

Progress reports are provided to your physician every three to four weeks. A final summary is sent upon completion of the program.

Signs and symptoms of heart disease may present themselves with increased physical activity or exercise. In some cases a patient may only have shortness of breath, and problem with the heart may be suspected.

The hospital’s cardiac rehab team partners with Park Nicollet Heart Center to provide cardiac stress testing and stress echocardiograms. The results obtained from these tests assist in the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease.

Cardiac Stress Testing

Cardiac Stress Testing evaluates blood pressure, heart rate and irregular heart rhythm to detect heart disease.

Exam preparation: Do not eat a heavy meal for three hours prior to the procedure, a light snack, such as toast and juice, is okay two hours before the test. This reduces the likelihood of nausea that may accompany strenuous exercise after a heavy meal. Diabetics, particularly those who use insulin, will need special instructions from the physician’s office. Check with your physician to see if any medications should be stopped 24 hours prior to exam to provide more accurate results.

Wear loose fitting clothing and shoes appropriate for exercise. You will need to remove any jewelry and clothes above your waist (you may be allowed to keep on your underwear if it does not interfere with the test). You may be given a gown to wear to use during the test.

During the exam:  During the exam, small electrodes placed on the chest and a blood pressure cuff on the arm. A baseline recording of heart rhythm and blood pressure are obtained and the patient is asked to begin with exercise on a treadmill. Exercise starts at a slower “warm-up” speed on a treadmill. The level of activity is increased every 3 minutes. Throughout the test the electrodes connected to an EKG machine records heart rhythm. Blood pressure levels are also recorded at intervals throughout the test.  Exercise is stopped when you reach your target heart rate (based on age).

The exam may last 60 minutes, including the preparation, and stress test.

After your exam: A cardiologist will attend your stress test, interpret and provide results before you leave.

A Stress Echocardiogram provides a picture of how the heart functions with different levels of activity by combining physical activity (stress) with ultrasound imaging (echocardiogram). An echocardiogram is a type of ultrasound test that uses high-pitched sound waves, or echos, to produce images of your heart. The test can also look at how the valves are functioning and the speed and direction that blood flows through the chambers of the heart. Views of the heart are obtained by moving the transducer to different locations on your chest or abdominal wall.

Exam preparation: Do not eat a heavy meal for three hours prior to the procedure, a light snack, such as toast and juice, is okay two hours before the test. This reduces the likelihood of nausea that may accompany strenuous exercise after a heavy meal. Diabetics, particularly those who use insulin, will need special instructions from the physician’s office.

Wear loose fitting clothing and shoes appropriate for exercise. You will need to remove any jewelry and clothes above your waist (you may be allowed to keep on your underwear if it does not interfere with the test). You may be given a gown to wear to use during the test.

During the exam: Your exam will start with an echocardiogram at rest to provide a baseline showing the size and function of the heart. During the echocardiogram you may be required to have an injection of a contrast material that will provide a better image of the heart (the contrast generally has very few adverse effects.) The radiologist and/or your doctor will determine if the contrast material is necessary based on your personal history.

You will lie on your back or on your left side during the exam. Electrodes will be taped on your chest to record your heart rate during the test. A registered sonographer will press a hand-held device firmly to your chest with small movements back and forth. Images of your heart will appear on a video screen and several images and measurements will be recorded.

Once a baseline has been recorded, the patient will be asked to start the stress test with exercise starting at a slower “warm-up” speed. The level of activity is increased every 3 minutes.

Your heart rate and blood pressure is recorded at intervals throughout the stress test. The treadmill is abruptly stopped when you exceed 85% of the target heart rate (based on age). Exercise may be stopped earlier if needed based on patient symptoms.

Immediately after stopping the treadmill, you will lie down for another echocardiogram. Images are stored and then played back by the computer. A video clip of multiple views of the resting and exercise study are compared side-by-side for analysis by the physician.

Experienced medical staff is in the room to manage the rare complications like sustained abnormal heart rhythm, unrelieved chest pain or even a heart attack.

A stress echocardiogram may last 1 1/2 to 2 hours for the entire test, including the preparation, imaging and stress test.

After your exam: A cardiologist will attend your exam, interpret and provide results of your stress echocardiogram before you leave.