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Rehab helps heart patients live longer -- but they have to show up
Date:10/22/2011

ication and did regular aerobic, strength, and stretching exercises; they also attended education sessions to learn better nutrition and stress management "a full lifestyle revamp," says Dr. Martin. After 12 weeks, they were retested on the treadmill to determine fitness level. In addition, 1,696 of the people in the study returned for treadmill testing one year after starting the program.

Results showed the better a person's level of fitness, the lower the risk of death over the 15 years of the study. "We found that your fitness predicts how you do in the long term," says Dr. Martin. "If you are more fit, you are less likely to die."

"Over 1.3 million survivors are living with heart disease and each of those life-changing events affects a network of family, friends, and coworkers," says Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson Dr. Beth Abramson "Cardiac rehabilitation supports patients to integrate lifestyle changes into their lives, with powerful results, yet it is underused. It is important that it is an essential part of the recovery process."

She recommends that if you or a family member are living with heart disease but have not been sent to cardiac rehab to talk to your doctor you may still be eligible to participate.

Dr. Martin agrees, adding that the next step is to increase attendance rates at cardiac rehabilitation programs. Right now, only about half of heart patients who are sent to rehab actually show up. The least likely to attend are the elderly and those who are sedentary, and they have the most to gain from it, she adds. "Now we can tell them they'll live longer. I like to tell patients our surgery takes four hours. You have the rest of your life to treat this disease."

Here are some of the important findings of the study:

  • For every step you make in improving your fitness level, there is a 30% reduction in mortality.
  • If you are out of shape, even small changes are helpful.
  • The more you
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Contact: Amanda Bates
amanda@curvecommunications.com
604-306-0027
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Source:Eurekalert

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