February is Heart Month: Cardiac Rehabilitation at VMH has become a highly utilized local service
Veterans Memorial Hospital began its own Cardiac Rehabilitation unit nearly two decades ago to help fulfill a need in the community - a need that has been and continues to be well utilized.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, where half a million people die each year due to this disease. Many people develop symptoms of heart disease when they are in their 40s or 50s, interrupting a most productive time of life. Cardiac Rehabilitation is an important tool in the fight against heart disease. Rehabilitation involves monitored exercise, nutritional counseling, emotional support and education about lifestyle changes to reduce risks of heart problems.
The need for attending a Cardiac Rehabilitation program usually stems from experiencing an event, such as a heart attack and/or surgery related to heart disease, and the need to recover with supervision from that traumatic event. Immediately following the heart attack and/or heart surgery, while the patient is still hospitalized they attend a Phase I Cardiac Rehabilitation program as an inpatient. Once they are discharged from the hospital, they are referred to the Veterans Memorial Hospital Cardiac Rehabilitation program to attend the second phase, or Phase II Cardiac Rehabilitation. Phase II Cardiac Rehabilitation is designed for outpatients who travel to the hospital three times per week for a one-hour session of closely supervised physical rehabilitation.
Cardiac Rehabilitation nurses Amy Rolfs, RN and Diann Weymiller, RN oversee individualized cardiac rehabilitation programs for their patients at Veterans Memorial Hospital. The heart needs to exercise in order to regain much of its strength following the cardiac event, but patients need close supervision due to the heart’s delicate condition. In Phase II Cardiac Rehabilitation, the patient’s heart is continually monitored by a telemetry unit that watches the heart’s activity. The nurses continually supervise each session documenting all activity, continually taking blood pressure checks, and measuring improvement.
A Phase II Cardiac Rehabilitation program is essential for the fullest recovery of a victim of a heart disorder. Again this year, many new patients were referred to the Veterans Memorial Hospital Cardiac Rehabilitation program. VMH averages over 40 new patients each year. These patients come from Allamakee, Clayton, Winneshiek and Fayette counties, and sometimes even further. Without this local Cardiac Rehabilitation program at Veterans Memorial Hospital, many heart patients would need to travel a great distance three times per week to attend another program, or go without proper rehabilitation.
Each Cardiac Rehabilitation session lasts approximately one hour and consists of a five-minute warm-up, 30 minutes of aerobic activity, strength training and a five-minute cool down. Each patient also receives education on stress reduction, nutrition, medications and exercise during each session.
The Cardiac Rehabilitation unit at Veterans Memorial Hospital in Waukon is fully equipped with a computerized treadmill, weighted pulleys, steps and a NuStep machine.
For more information on the Veterans Memorial Hospital Cardiac Rehabilitation department, call Veterans Memorial Hospital at 563-568-3411.