Cardiovascular disease constitutes the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States. Despite medication advances, development in medical instruments and surgeries, millions still struggle to live with their heart condition. Most patients suffering a scary event like a heart attack, or an open-heart surgery are unsure about exercising. Most patients also do not know what constitutes a “heart-healthy” diet. Patients can lose physical activity confidence and endurance due to heart conditions despite an optimal medical regimen.
Cardiac Rehabilitation is a comprehensive multi-disciplinary program with the mission of promoting a healthy lifestyle, improving patient outcomes, and preventing disease recurrence. The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology give cardiac rehabilitation its strongest recommendation for patients after heart surgery. Specifically, myocardial infarction (heart attack), or coronary intervention (reopening of heart blood vessel), patients with stable angina (chest pain due to lack of blood supply), stable systolic heart failure (heart failing to pump blood), and peripheral artery disease (lack of blood supply to legs). The benefits of incorporating a cardiac rehabilitation program are significant and include a 13% to 24% reduction in total mortality over 1 to 3 years, a 31% decrease in re-admissions after the first year, and an increase in physical function and quality of life.
Nevertheless, rates of referral and utilization remain low with disparities in cardiac rehabilitation participation reported in women, low-income residents, and people of color.
Medical leaders at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center (RLANRC) answered the challenge of the growing patient population with heart diseases by launching the RLANRC Cardiac Rehabilitation Program in 2019. Initially, services were only available to RLANRC patients however, thanks to the outstanding teamwork by our Cardiologists, Physical and Occupational Therapists, Nursing Services and the exceptional benefits observed, the program expanded and is currently available to all DHS patients.
The RLANRC Rehabilitation team exceled by helping patients rebuild an active lifestyle while delivering hope in returning to a productive life. Most patients are referred from our sister facilities, LA General Medical Center, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Olive View-UCLA Medical Center and Martin Luther King Outpatient Center. Patients are evaluated by trained physical therapists and receive individual exercise plans and specific goals. Exercise training sessions are conducted over a period of 12 weeks under the supervision of cardiac nurse practitioners and board-certified cardiologists. Occupational Therapists and nurse educators conduct educational sessions on heart-healthy diets, smoking cessation and stress management, using materials and resources catered to the ethnically diverse patient population DHS serves. Upon completion of the program, patients receive a pedometer, blood pressure monitor, and a scale to continue their commitment to a healthy lifestyle. In addition, patients are automatically enrolled in our Telehealth Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, an innovative complementary follow-up program that assists patients in maintaining an independent healthy lifestyle. The excellent RLANRC multidisciplinary cardiac rehabilitation team takes pride in providing this specialized service and remains committed to offering this life-saving treatment to all DHS patients.
You can look here for additional information on the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center (lacounty.gov).