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Canonsburg Hospital Launches Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Programs

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

CANONSBURG, Pa. – Cardiovascular disease and chronic lower respiratory disease rank first and third, respectively, as the leading causes of death in the United States. Allegheny Health Network’s (AHN) Canonsburg Hospital has launched a program to help patients recovering from heart-related hospitalizations or cardiovascular procedures and provide relief for people living with heart and lung diseases. The hospital's new cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation programs offer a collaborative, team-based approach so patients have the support needed to return to their previous activity levels or increase their functional capacity. 

Canonsburg Hospital is hosting an open house today from 4 to 7 p.m. for the public to learn more about the new programs.

Cardiovascular rehab can assist patients recovering from a heart attack or living with heart failure or peripheral vascular disease, as well as those on the mend from a variety of heart procedures. That can include angioplasty and stents, bypass surgery, heart valve repair or replacement, and heart transplantation. 

The pulmonary rehab program, meanwhile, will provide help for people living with a range of respiratory issues, most notably chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as well as sarcoidosis, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, and those who have had or will have lung surgery.  

“A cardiovascular rehabilitation program is a critical component to making a complete recovery for someone who has undergone a heart procedure,” said Travis Wilson, MD, Medical Director of the Canonsburg Hospital cardiovascular rehab program. “It also can help people living with heart failure or peripheral vascular disease to have the confidence to lead a more active lifestyle.”

In addition to Dr. Wilson, the cardiovascular rehab team features clinical exercise physiologists, registered nurses and dietitians, certified diabetes educators, and behavioral health specialists. Patients begin the rehab program once their cardiac team approves it. For a patient recovering from a heart procedure, the program typically starts two to four weeks after the procedure and will include sessions three times a week for two to three months. 

“The sessions are team-based, but we don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach for cardiovascular rehab,” explained Dr. Wilson. “We tailor the program to make sure it is appropriate for each person and the individual’s progress is closely monitored at every step along the way.”

The program includes education on dietary changes, stress management, and weight loss so the patient can make a comprehensive change in lifestyle, a key to preventing a recurrent heart problem. 

While cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., COPD and other chronic lower respiratory illnesses are one of the few diseases that are becoming more prevalent every year; in recent years, they passed stroke to become the third-leading cause of death. Almost 16 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD, but the actual numbers are believed to be much higher because, according to the CDC, more than 50 percent of adults with low pulmonary function were unaware they had COPD.

“COPD is a chronic, progressive disease that cannot be cured, but with the right diagnosis it can be treated and managed,” said Euhan John Lee, MD, Medical Director of Pulmonary Services at Canonsburg Hospital. “Pulmonary rehab is a cornerstone of COPD management. It can significantly help patients breathe easier, move around more easily, improve the quality of their lives, manage anxiety and depression, and allow them to exercise more, which, in turn, will help them stay healthier.”  

Similar to cardiovascular rehab, pulmonary rehab uses a team-based approach that includes Dr. Lee as well as clinical exercise physiologists, respiratory therapists, registered nurses and dietitians, certified diabetes educators, and behavioral health specialists. Elements of an 8- to 12-week pulmonary rehab program can include: exercise training, nutritional counseling, education on disease management, energy-conserving techniques, breathing strategies, and psychological counseling or group support.

“By launching these rehabilitation programs at Canonsburg Hospital, we are able to bring an even greater level of care, closer to home, for the communities we are proud to serve,” said Louise Urban, President and CEO, Canonsburg Hospital. “That can mean an improved quality of life for people facing these challenging diseases.”