CLEARFIELD – Heart disease is the top health problem in Clearfield County, according to statistics from the state’s Department of Health.
In order to meet the needs of those affected, Clearfield Hospital’s cardiac rehabilitation team is integrating educational presentations into its program.
“Education has always been a part of cardiac rehab, but we are now offering specific classes to further improve our patients’ understanding of all aspects of the disease. We want them to have the tools they need to win the battle against heart disease,” said Dave Barber, exercise physiologist.
The enhanced offerings include classes about handling stress, weight management, reading food labels and reducing risk factors, among other topics. Participants’ family members are invited to take part in the classes, too.
“We know spouses and other family play a crucial role in a patient’s recovery, so it’s important for them to learn about heart disease so they can support their loved one,” Crissy Clark, exercise physiologist, noted.
Clearfield Hospital’s cardiac rehabilitation program, which is certified by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, helps individuals after heart attack and or heart surgery.
During the 12-week program, under the medical direction of Ralph A. Cardamone, M.D., F.A.C.C., patients receive assistance with exercise and strengthening while being closely monitored. Monitoring includes assessing the patient’s heart rhythm, heart rate and blood pressure with activity. Patients also receive counseling about good nutrition and how to manage risk factors associated with heart disease.
Barber and Clark said they want to increase awareness about the significant benefits of cardiac rehabilitation. According to a study conducted by the AACPR, for every five cardiac patients, only one takes part in this lifesaving and life-improving therapy.
After completing cardiac rehabilitation, participants are eligible for a maintenance program called Fit for Life.
Fit for Life is for former cardiac and pulmonary patients who have heart or pulmonary disease. A doctor’s referral is needed.
For $15 a month, former patients come to the department twice a week and exercise on the department’s treadmills, stationary bikes and hand cycles.
Exercise physiologists design exercise programs for the participants and monitor workouts. They also collaborate with participants’ doctors for continuity of care. Like cardiac rehabilitation, Fit for Life clients receive counseling about nutrition and behavior modification.
February is American Heart Month, a national observance to raise awareness about heart disease. Barber and Clark encourage everyone to log on to the American Heart Association’s Web site at www.heart.org to learn how simple lifestyle changes can improve one’s heart health.
Those interested in learning more about how cardiac rehabilitation and Fit for Life can help may contact the department at 814-768-2144.