Local News

Rehab Process Crucial When Recovering From Heart Surgery

Posted June 27, 2002

— Sen. Jesse Helms is now at WakeMed for rehab therapy. He had surgery back in April to fix a worn-out heart valve. Rehabiliation can an important part of recovering from that surgery.

Heart surgery saves lives, but rehabilitation is what helps patients live their lives. WakeMed's Cardiac Rehabilitation Program helps heart patients get back on track.

"The surgeons have repaired the problems. We want to work on why it happened in the first place," said Meg Bach, manager of WakeMed Healthworks.

Exercise is what most people think rehabiliation is all about, but for patients who are very ill or in poor health before surgery, cardiac rehab often begins in the hospital bed.

"A lot of times with a patient like that we take a few steps back, maybe meet them at the bedside," Bach said.

As a physical therapist, Skip Roy works with these types of patients. He helps them graduate to the traditional cardiac program.

"That may be getting them to stand by their bed, getting them to walk," Roy said.

Rehab is also an education. Through exercise and nutrition, patients learn how to live a healthier lifestyle.

"The learning aspect of it is such an important part," Bach said.

Your age and physical condition before a heart attack or heart surgery also factors in on the recovery time. With people living longer with heart disease, therapists expect more patients to fall into this transitional category.

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