After a cardiac event, a 2-6 month program called cardiac rehabilitation can help survivors gradually improve their physical fitness, learn about nutrition, meet other heart patients, and get support to quit smoking, lose weight or make other heart-healthy lifestyle changes to improve heart health. Cardiac rehab can reduce mortality by 25-40%, reduces angina symptoms, increases functional capacity, improves lipid (cholesterol) levels, reduces smoking by 25%, enhances psychological well-being, and improves exercise tolerance for all – including the elderly, frail or people with congestive heart failure.
Cardiac rehabilitation really works! We know that completing a program of cardiac rehab can be very effective in reinforcing improved habits. A 2001 University of Calgary research team lead by Dr. Kathryn King found that six months after finishing cardiac rehab, participants demonstrated higher health maintenance expectations and overall behaviour performance scores – and these indicators continued to improve over time.
But when I did a 4-month stint at cardiac rehabilitation after my own heart attack, I was vastly outnumbered by male participants, and was also one of the youngest in the group by at least two decades. Where did all the women go? Continue reading “Why aren’t female heart attack survivors showing up for cardiac rehab?”