What They Didn't Tell You in Cardio Rehab

Your medical emergency is over and you survived, this time. The Cardiologist assessed your situation and intervened to save your life. This intervention may have included a series of bypass grafts or a stent or two to open your block arteries or maybe a replacement for a leaking heart valve. Before very long the staff will start to talk about getting you up and about and into the world of Rehabilitation.

To many people, Cardiac Rehab is just annoying. Whilst you are grateful to be alive, you are tired and sore and the last thing you want to think about is exercise and lectures.

On the other hand, patients need to understand a few things about why hospitals do rehab programs. When your surgeon performs heart surgery he changes your blood circulation forever. Your blood may be travelling through new bypass grafts or a stent or may be using a new heart value. But like replacing the engine in a motor vehicle, it needs to be tested and tuned to ensure it is working under load. Rehab is usually administered by specialist nurses who carefully monitor you as they introduce you to progressively more strenuous exercise. They are watching for signs of failure. Signs that the heart and the changed circulatory system are not coping. If something goes wrong help is right there. In short, it's a test drive. Make sure you take it before you leave the hospital.

But rehab programs seek to do some other things too. They attempt to educate patients about the ideal lifestyle to improve their health in the future. Things get a little weird at this point because people end up in rehab for a variety of reasons. Consider the man who is seriously overweight sits in a lecture about nutrition next to an old man with a replacement value. The implication to both men is that their diet isn't good enough. No one says this of course as Rehab is a one-size-fits-all experience.

Other lectures discuss a variety of lifestyle factors. How to read food labels in the supermarket; The importance of taking your medicines; Eliminating stress from your daily life and so on. After the six week program you are on your own.

What rehab programs don't tend to mention is that the lifestyle changes they recommend are very hard to achieve. Many people slip back into old habits and end up with another heart attack. So even when a person with heart disease finishes their rehabilitation course, there are still many questions to be answered.

  • After many years with an established diet, how do you make the changes that are necessary stick?

  • If I haven't exercised in years, how can I start when even walking is a challenge?

  • How can I establish a positive attitude towards what seems like an uncertain future?

  • What can I do about my foggy mind and poor memory?

  • How can I be sure that I'm not going to cause another heart attack?

Real change is hard, I know. It's been 18 years since my heart bypass and I have learnt so much about heart disease, lifestyles, diet and nutrition. So I decided to share my knowledge and experience with others. I gained accreditations as a Primal Health Coach and work with people who are at risk yet motivated to change their situation for the better. If this is you, why not book a free Discovery session on this website for a chat about your challenges and how we can work together to improve your lifestyle and your health span.

Mike Lynch

Lifestyle and Wellness Coach