SIOUX CENTER—Cardiac rehabilitation doesn’t change the past, but it’s often the key to an individual’s heart future.
“I think most don’t realize what it is,” said Dr. Jason Koelewyn, medical director of Sioux Center Health’s Cardiac Rehab Center. “Maybe it’s something a person will never have to experience, which is great, but it’s important to have it, especially to be able to help area residents have the care avaiable if they experience a heart event.
Cardiac rehab, highlight in February as Heart Awareness Month, is a medically supervised program designed to improve an individual’s cardiovascular health if they have experienced a heart attack, heart failure, angioplasty or heart surgery. Koelewyn and cardiac rehab coordinator Heather Marra said cardiac rehab has three equally important parts:
- Exercise counseling and training.
“Exercise gets your heart pumping and your entire cardiovascular system working,” Marra said. “You’ll learn how to get your body moving in ways that promote heart health. Some people are a bit scared by this but we slowly ramp things up, working up to a certain amount of exercise based on the invidual”
- Education for heart-healthy living.
“A key element of cardiac rehab is educating yourself: How can you manage your risk factors? Quit smoking? Make heart-healthy nutrition choices?” Koelewyn said. “I always tell people you can’t do anything about your family or your age, but if you look at the modifying risk factors — what can you change — that’s a good place to start in having a better future.”
- Counseling to reduce stress.
“Stress hurts your heart,” Marra said. “This part of cardiac rehab helps you identify and tackle everyday sources of stress.”
And it’s all done under supervision.
“It’s our goal that each person comes out with a better understanding of what they can do to live a better life, not be a repeat offender,” Koelewyn said, noting he has seen some of those in the 11 years he’s been director of the cardiac rehab center. He added that a 2016 study showed that cardiac rehab improves the survivability and reduces futures events. “It all comes down to prevention and preventing reoccurrence.”
Most individuals have at least 20 sessions of cardiac rehab through which they’re learning a lifestyle change.
“We have patients who come who still come to our center even though it’s been five years since there event,” Marra said. “They still want to continue on because they know they’re not going to do exercise at home or know they’re not going to go to Snap Fitness. We call the part of our program, Tier 3, which is an aspect of our rehab center that probably a lot of people don’t know.”
For $5 a session out of pocket, an individual may come work out at the rehab center. Nurses check blood pressure before and after exercise as well.
“It’s a little way to monitor their progress, if they’re working to hard or if something else might be wrong or if they’re doing great,” Marra said. “That alone for some provides some piece of mind that we can monitor their activity. What it comes down to is that some are motivated and it’s a life change thing. Others become more complacent. I’d say our goal is to do our best no matter what situation a patient is in so they all can have and maintain a better quality of life going forward.”