Be Smart – Take Care of Your Heart!

posted by Anne Rosendahl on Tuesday, February 22, 2022

We recently celebrated Cardiac Rehabilitation Week, however, as the nurse coordinator for Spencer Hospital’s Cardiopulmonary program, I focus on cardiac health each day.

While it’s rewarding to see how amazing our cardiac rehab patients respond to the program, I always like to remind people that good heart health needs to occur before someone experiences an event that can result in the need for rehabilitation. 

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women so knowing your risk factors are key. Some risk factors we can’t change like our age and family history but we do have control over a number of others, such as:

  1. Quit Smoking – not smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health.  Smoking damages the circulatory system and greatly increases your risk for heart and lung disease.
  2. Get Active – a sedentary lifestyle puts you at a higher risk for heart disease.  We encourage everyone to incorporate 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise into their day.  The heart is a muscle and it needs to be exercised.
  3. Eat Better – try to limit overly processed foods, instead choose a colorful diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, poultry, fish and nuts.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight – obesity puts us at a higher risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and some forms of cancer.  Watching portion sizes, choosing heart healthy foods as mentioned before and exercise are key to maintaining a healthy weight.
  5. It’s also important to manage blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugars – left untreated they can also lead to heart attack, stroke and kidney failure.

Our Cardiac Rehab team at Spencer Hospital works with our Cardiologists and Primary Care Physicians to assist patients after they’ve had a heart event.  This can include a heart attack, bypass surgery, coronary stents, heart valve surgeries and even heart transplants.  This can be a scary time for these patients.   We work with them to safely incorporate exercise and healthy lifestyle choices into their daily routine and become more confident in developing a heart healthy lifestyle. 

Most patients attend cardiac rehab three days a week for 8-12 weeks.  We really focus on risk reduction and exercise training during this time.  It’s a bonus to be surrounded by others that are going through similar challenges, similar to a support group.  Many of them develop lasting friendships.

For someone who has not experienced a heart attack or a heart event, our Cardiac Enhancement program is ideal for anyone with heart disease risk factors that would benefit from supervised exercise. As I mentioned before, this could include someone that is overweight, has high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol levels, diabetes, smokes, or leads a sedentary lifestyle and feels more comfortable exercising in a supervised setting.  Many of our Cardiac Rehab participants choose to enroll in this program upon completion of their initial 8-12 weeks to continue their heart health journey.   Cardic Enhancement is not covered by insurance but we make every effort to keep it affordable.  

If someone is interested in either Cardiac Rehab or Cardiac Enhancement, we encourage them to contact their physician or call us directly at 712-264-6178.

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About The Author

Anne Rosendahl

Anne Rosendahl is a cardiac rehab nurse with Spencer Hospital's Cardiopulmonary Rehab service.