An unexpected cardiac event like a heart attack or the need for open-heart surgery can be a life-changing event, but you’ll have a team of medical professionals by your side working to ensure your care and recovery goes as planned. Physical therapists are by your side throughout your entire cardiac event recovery to help your heart get back to the healthiest version of itself. Below, we take a closer look at how physical therapists will work to improve your heart health in the wake of a cardiac event.
Physical Therapy And The Stages Of Cardiac Event Recovery
After a heart attack, heart surgery or another significant cardiac event, you’ll recover in stages so that your heart can gradually strengthen and begin to take on more activity. There are typically four stages to cardiac recovery, and a physical therapist is by your side during each one of them, although our outpatient team doesn’t step in until the second stage. Here’s a look at how PT can help you through the stages of cardiac event recovery.
- Stage 1 – Stage 1 is oftentimes referred to as the acute phase in your recovery. This is the period right after your medical event or surgery while you’re still at the hospital or medical center. You’ll have to progress through this first stage before you are discharged from the center. During the acute phase, an acute care physical therapist will assess, monitor and work to improve a number of things, including your mobility, wound care, conditioning, patient education and overall independence. The goal at this point is to ensure you are healthy enough to be safely discharged to your home or to a secondary care facility.
- Stage 2 – Typically known as the subacute phase, this stage is where we come in. You’ll connect with an outpatient physical therapy clinic and visit a couple of times a week (or set up remote appointments if appropriate). Our goal is to monitor your heart health and develop some exercise routines to help strengthen your heart and improve your conditioning. We also work to educate patients on how to self-monitor their heart rate and exertion levels during exercise so that they stay at the proper level as you gradually improve.
- Stage 3 – The third stage involves really increasing your activity and exercise level with the help of an outpatient physical therapist. These intensive outpatient sessions are designed to really help your heart get back to the strongest version of itself and ensure it is capable of handling certain vigorous activities. During this stage, your physical therapist will also give you a number of exercises to perform on your own when you’re not at their clinic. This mix of intensive outpatient exercises, controlled home-based exercises and continued patient education on how to monitor their heart health really help you make significant strides with your overall cardiac health.
- Stage 4 – The final stage of cardiac rehab involves what is known as continued care. You’ve made a significant recovery and your physical therapist no longer believes you need to be seen in person, but that doesn’t mean your work is done. If you were on a diet, you wouldn’t go back to your old eating habits as soon as you hit your goal weight, and you shouldn’t give up on your exercises and stop working to improve your heart health just because you’ve been given the green light to stop coming into our office. We’ll give you all the tools you need to continue to improve your heart health, and we’ll educate you on why it’s so important to stick with your exercises. You’ll technically be on your own, but you can always reach out to us as a resource if you have questions or need assistance.
A cardiac event can have a significant impact on your life, but you can help to lessen that impact and get back to a normal life with the help of a physical therapist. For more information, or for help with your physical ailment, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today.