Ask the Expert October 21, 2016

As seen in the Tri Town News.

Kathy D. from Wall asks:
“My father is 72 years old and was recently diagnosed with Cardiovascular Disease. My siblings and I have been researching different methods of treatment, however we are unclear about Cardiac Rehabilitation. How does Cardiac rehab benefit someone with cardiovascular disease?”

Hi Kathy, first off I’d like to thank you for your question. Coming to grips with news like this can be hard, and I commend you and your family for learning about different options so you can all decide what’s best for your father.

Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised program designed to prolong a patient’s life by improving the heart’s functioning. This form of treatment has many benefits such as reducing the risk of future heart problems, decreasing the chance of the patient returning to the hospital for the same condition, improving the patient’s overall health by reducing the risk factors for heart problems, and improving the patient’s quality of life making it easier to participate in life’s activities again. There are three equally important aspects to cardiac rehab…exercise, education, and stress reduction.

An individualized exercise program will be designed to help improve the patient’s endurance and strengthen the heart. We at Allaire rehab & nursing are fortunate enough to have Change of Heart Cardiology on site to oversee our cardiac rehabilitation. Jennifer Sanfilippo, APN, RN-C states “The physical and emotional benefits of aerobic exercise in individuals with cardiovascular disease have been well researched for years. Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term commonly used to describe patients with known coronary artery disease, those who have had a heart attack, coronary stents, congestive heart failure, or post coronary bypass surgery. Cardiac rehabilitation is tailored exercise training for people in this specific population in a monitored setting. Unlike a regular exercise program, the activity is supervised by a medical professional with specialized training in physical/occupational therapy, exercise physiology. or nurses with cardiac certification. During the exercise, heart rate, blood pressure, and assessment for any symptoms are closely monitored before, during, and after exercise. Studies have demonstrated that cardiac rehab initiated as early as 1 week and no later than one month following a cardiac event has a proven benefit from a mortality and morbidity standpoint. Meaning patients who undergo cardiac rehab are living longer. Goals include optimizing functional status, a return to activities of daily living, enhanced cardiovascular performance, and reducing one’s risk of future cardiac events through improving physical fitness and providing education. At Change of Heart Cardiology, our practice has aggressively promoted this underutilized therapy that is an essential component to restoring health. “

Education on the patient’s disease is an equally important aspect of cardiac rehabilitation. At Allaire rehab & nursing upon admission you will be given a booklet explaining your cardiac condition and ways to improve your symptoms through dietary modifications, exercise techniques, relaxation and guided imagery. You will also have a specific diet set by our dietitian and educated on the details of this diet. Medications and any procedures will be explained to you as well. It is important for the patient to understand all aspects of treatment in order to continue with this new lifestyle at home. Also part of the education process is stress reduction. Stress has a huge effect on a person’s heart and learning ways to decrease stress is a very important part of keeping your heart healthy.

I hope I explained cardiac rehabilitation for you Kathy and if you have any other questions please feel free to reach out to me anytime at Thank you again for your question.

Brie Gallo is the Director of Case Management and Physician Relations for Allaire Rehab and nursing center. Please submit all questions to