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According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for the last 100 years and the leading cause of death for men and women.  February marks American Heart Month in which awareness is brought to cardiovascular disease. In the United States, approximately every 40 seconds, someone experiences a heart attack, affecting approximately 805,000 people. Every 34 seconds someone dies from heart disease. Changing or lowering your risk factors can prevent heart disease by 80%.

After experiencing either a heart attack, stents, heart surgery, or heart failure people often question what they do next. Cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) is a supervised program designed to help the heart’s future.  It is led by a team approach provided by physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists and dieticians. Through an individualized program, patients will learn how to properly exercise to promote a healthy heart, learn about heart-healthy living, medications, how to manage risk factors for heart disease and how to reduce stress. Patients usually attend cardiac rehab from two to sixteen weeks.

Logan Health-Conrad Cardio-Heart“Cardiac rehab is not only important to treat your heart problem, but it also provides the educational tools to continue to live a healthy lifestyle and lessen your chances of another heart event,” says Stephanie Nelson, Cardiopulmonary Coordinator at Logan Health – Conrad.

Logan Health – Conrad’s (LHC) Cardiac Rehab Program is AACVPR Certified. In addition to the traditional center-based program, LHC offers a hybrid cardiac rehabilitation program.  The programs take place in the LHC Wellness Center with a group of other cardiac rehab patients. This interaction with other cardiac patients provides an extra support system for patients, in addition to the encouragement received from family and friends.

“At LHC, we work closely with our patients to help each of them achieve their best results and feel confident moving forward with their heart-healthy lifestyle,” added Nelson. “My patients continue to impress me with their results from the first day I meet them until the day they graduate. I don’t think they realize how much they inspire other patients and people around them.”

The LHC Cardiac Rehab Program achieves higher outcomes with blood pressure, depression, enrollment and adherence rate and functional capacity compared to other Montana and national programs. After completing the cardiac rehab program, LHC continues to support graduates from both cardiac and pulmonary rehab by giving them the opportunity to join the maintenance program to continue their heart-healthy journey.

A recent graduate who was diagnosed with several heart-related problems briefly describes her journey through the LHC Cardiac Rehab Program.  “After a lengthy stay in the hospital, I found myself at cardiac rehab.  When I began cardiac rehab, my ejection fraction (EF) was 10%.  About halfway through the program, I had another echocardiogram to check the recovery of my heart.  The EF at that time had improved to 37%. By the end of the program the EF increased to 47%,” said Cindy Lowry, a Choteau resident who completed the LHC Cardiac Rehab Program. “I would like to thank Stephanie Nelson for everything she did for me. She is amazing in my book.  She made a very scary journey to recovery so much easier, educational and a lot of fun. I always looked forward to my time in cardiac rehab. My advice to anyone with heart issues is to check into cardiac rehab. I believe rehab really helped me and it could help you too.”

February 11-17 is Cardiac Rehabilitation Week. To help raise awareness of heart disease and learn more about the importance of cardiac rehab, LHC’s Cardiac Rehab team has planned fun activities for the facility’s employees. The staff at LHC would like to encourage the community to take charge of their heart health and know the risk factors for heart disease. For more information about cardiac rehab, speak with your physician or call Logan Health – Conrad at 406-271-3211.