Living a healthy lifestyle is important for anyone with chronic health conditions. And for patients with diabetes, cancer and heart issues, lifestyle changes can make a big difference to help reduce future risk. Renown’s Healthy Heart Program works with those who have had a heart attack and other heart events. We asked Director of Cardiac Rehab at Renown Health, Lynice Anderson, RD, CDE, MBA to explain more about the program.
What is the Healthy Heart Program?
The Healthy Heart Program is Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation (ICR). While traditional cardiac rehab targets exercise only, ICR is a complete program. It focuses on important and changeable risk factors including nutrition, exercise, healthy mindset and stress management.
In addition to one hour of medically supervised exercise, ICR includes another hour of lifestyle education per session. Lectures, videos, and interactive sessions including a weekly “cooking school” create an engaging and supportive learning environment.
Patients attend three times per week and graduate after completing 36 visits. Working with our team of registered nurses, exercise physiologists and a registered dietitian, each participant receives a custom treatment plan. This plan specifically includes an exercise prescription that adjusts as the individual becomes stronger.
Who can participate in the Healthy Heart Program?
Anyone who has experienced a heart event can be referred to the Healthy Heart Program. Significantly, positive support can play an important role in healing and health improvement. ICR encourages family, friends and all supporters to attend any, and all, of the lifestyle education classes.
Cardiac rehabilitation is an important part of medical care after a heart event. The benefits include:
- Lower risk of future heart problems
- Decreasing pain
- Less need for medicines to treat blood pressure or chest pain
- Overall health improvement by reducing risk factors for heart problems and other chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure
- Quality of life improvement, making it easier to work, take part in social activities and exercise
What lifestyle changes do you suggest for everyone, not just those with heart problems?
Making healthful choices can certainly be challenging when everyday life is busy. Excuses aside, it’s important to make the effort anyway. According to the World Health Organization, a healthy lifestyle can prevent 80 percent of all heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Anderson offers the following tips:
Every day is a new chance to focus on your diet. This includes eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Planning meals and snacks helps you avoid having to rely on fast food and other less healthful options.
Try to move more every day. Why not park further away from the store? Likewise take the stairs instead of the elevator. If finding a half hour to be active is hard, focus on a few 10-minute breaks. Aim to fit in 30 minutes of purposeful exercise each day.
Set realistic goals and practice positive self-talk. For example, give yourself a timeline for reaching your goal. Then be sure to write down the steps in your plan for getting there. By all means get others involved in your “pursuit of better health.” This way you can support each other, stay on track and celebrate your success.