Taking Steps to Keep a Heart Healthy

When they told Dan he would need a heart transplant, he didn’t wait around. He followed Dr. Andrew Pogozelski’s proactive treatment plan, receiving a pacemaker and prescription medications. Dan then launched into cardiac rehab through Allegheny Health Network (AHN). The staff at Forbes Hospital structured his exercises, monitored his progress, and encouraged him to stay active. This team approach paid off in a healthier heart — and Dan came off the transplant list.

Patients who put their whole heart into following a multi-track treatment plan are living proof that taking the right steps can lead to better health outcomes.

Cardiac rehab fights heart disease

Heart failure affects 5.7 million Americans annually, according to the American Heart Association. It is the leading cause of hospitalization among people over the age of 65. 

Cardiac rehab programs involve professionals from a variety of disciplines who help patients with:

  • Medication and nutrition counseling
  • Stress management
  • Diabetes or obesity education 

Each patient follows an individual care plan and takes part in closely monitored exercise sessions.

Cardiac rehab to build strength

Cardiac rehab is a supervised set of exercises for people who have heart problems.

Dr. Michael Hagerty, an AHN cardiologist, emphasizes that cardiac rehab is safer than exercising on your own because blood pressure and heart rate are carefully monitored.

With approval from their cardiology team, patients receive a personalized exercise program suited to their diagnosis, age, abilities and phase of recovery. Patients may live longer, and also benefit from:

  • More physical activity  
  • Better eating habits 
  • Lower rates of depression  
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower readmission rates to the hospital

Medical experts explain

Lexi Robinson, MS, CES, director of cardiology services at Jefferson Hospital, said, “If you have not participated regularly in an exercise program in 20 years, you can’t just go out and run. You need a calculated, supervised exercise program.”

“For heart patients, education and counseling are also ways to avoid readmission and keep healthy,” she added.

Surgeons pioneer life-saving research

AHN cardiologists helped pioneer the use of battery-powered devices that:

  • Continuously monitor heart rhythm
  • Collect important data about heart function
  • Assist in regulating abnormal heartbeat

Their research and discoveries have contributed to:

  • The latest generation of implantable cardioverter defibrillators
  • Transcatheter aortic valve replacement for defective aortic heart valves
  • Repair of defective mitral valves via robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery 
  • Left ventricular assist devices (LVAD) mechanical pumps that are surgically implanted to assist a weakened heart muscle

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