Cardiac Rehabilitation

Cardiac rehabilitation uses supervised exercise prescription and monitoring to assist in improving patient's recovery from the consequences of cardiac events. Regular supervised exercise aims at reducing the risk of further cardiac events as well as reverse further progression of cardiovascular disease. Conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity can be controlled and stabilised through specific exercise interventions.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa: "Up to 80% of heart disease and stroke could be prevented by setting up healthy habits for life with a good diet, exercise and avoiding smoking" and "About 33 people per day die of a heart attack, while about 60 die per day because of stroke"

Risk factors for cardiovascular disease:

  • Age - Men over the age of 45, women over the age of 55

     

  • Gender - Men tend to be at greater risk for heart disease, but after menopause men and women are at more or less the same risk.

     

  • Hereditary - Family history of heart disease puts you at greater risk of developing heart disease than if you have no family history of it.

     

  • High Blood pressure (Hypertension) - Blood pressure is the measurement of the force against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood through your body. Stress, obesity, poor diet and smoking all lead to damage to the arteries and subsequent hardening, which increases the blood pressure. Most of the time there are no symptoms of high blood pressure, but when left uncontrolled it increases the risk of having a heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease and early death. Long-term, regular aerobic exercises helps to lower blood pressure, thereby reducing your risk for heart disease.

     

  • High Cholesterol - Cholesterol is a fat (lipid) produced by the liver and exists in the outer layer of every cell in our bodies and performs many important functions. Cholesterol attaches to proteins to be carried through the blood as lipoproteins. There are 2 main types – one that protects arteries, and one that damages them. LDL Cholesterol is the "bad" cholesterol that is able to attach easily to the inner wall of blood vessels forming plaques that block the arteries. HDL Cholesterol is the "good" cholesterol that clears away LDL cholesterol, plaques and debris in the arteries. Physical activity helps to increase the HDL cholesterol, which in turn decreases the LDL cholesterol levels thereby reducing the risk of blockages in the arteries and subsequent heart disease.

     

  • Diabetes - Diabetes Mellitus is a condition that occurs when the body can't use glucose normally. Glucose is the main source of energy for the body's cells. The levels of glucose in the blood are controlled by the hormone insulin, which is produced in the pancreas and to help glucose enter the cells to be used. When the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, a person has Type I Diabetes Mellitus. They then become insulin dependent. When the body becomes resistant to insulin due to being unable to cope with the glucose intake, a person is diagnosed with Type II Diabetes Mellitus. If diabetes is left uncontrolled, there are raised levels of glucose in the bloodstream. Over time this damages the heart, blood vessels, nerves, the eyes and the kidneys. Regular exercise improves the body's response to insulin, thereby reducing the blood glucose levels.

     

  • Obesity - Obesity is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health. Body Mass Index (BMI) is often used to calculate the relationship between your height and your weight (Weight (kg) / Height(m)2). A BMI over 25 classifies you as overweight, whereas a BMI over 30 classifies you as obese. Another good indicator is measuring body fat percentage through skin fold measurements, or bioelectrical impedance. Exercise helps to burn fat, and in order to lose weight one needs to consume less fuel than one is using. Through building muscle, metabolism is increased, which helps to use more fat.

     

  • Smoking - Smoking causes more heart problems than it causes lung cancer. Nicotine raises the blood pressure and makes it clot more easily. Carbon monoxide robs the blood of oxygen, which enables more plaque formation. These factors increase the risk of having a heart attack or a stroke.

     

  • Physical inactivity - Leading a sedentary or inactive lifestyle leaves you with poor cardiovascular fitness, which leaves you at a greater risk for developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and high stress levels. Regular physical activity leads to cardiovascular fitness, thereby decreasing your risk for developing heart disease.

     

  • Stress - Stress is a risk factor for heart disease because chronic stress exposes your body to unhealthy and persistently elevated levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Stress also worsens other risk factors – blood pressure may become elevated, you may overeat, you may exercise less and you may be more likely to smoke. Exercise improves blood flow to your brain, which helps to supply nutrients needed for intense concentration, and removes waste products that cause that "foggy feeling". Exercise releases endorphins (feel-good hormones), which make you feel happy and give you an overall sense of well-being, thereby relieving stress. Physically fit people have less extreme physiological responses to stress than those who are not. This makes them less likely to suffer ill-health or burnout due to stress.