Cardiac rehabilitation: impact of graded exercise in the recovery period following myocardial infarction
School of Pharmacy, Keele University, Staffordshire, UK
Abstract: This paper reviews the impact of graded exercise undertaken as part of a cardiac rehabilitation (CR) program in the recovery period following a myocardial infarction, focusing on how CR may be best provided and the evidence-base relating to exercise-based CR. Essential components of CR are considered here to include education about healthy behavior, lifestyle modification where necessary (especially in relation to smoking, diet, and physical exercise), medical risk factor management, use of cardioprotective medicines and implantable devices, and psychosocial health management. It is argued that the totality of the evidence continues to demonstrate benefits of exercise-based CR in terms of mortality and morbidity, despite the debate about the magnitude of that benefit. However, given the wide variance in the quality and nature of CR service provision, there is no guarantee that patients eligible for CR will benefit fully. In line with national and international standards, CR should be tailored to the patient's individual needs, but structured exercise is recommended for most patients. Exercise sessions, whether based in hospital, in the community, or at home, should be designed to vary the frequency, intensity, duration, and type of exercise. They must include an initial warm-up period, before a conditioning period, and finish with a cool-down period. Patients should be taught to self-monitor so that they can exercise safely on their own. In designing interventions to support patients to change health behavior, health professionals should recognize that patients may only make lifestyle modifications to aspects of lifestyle perceived as causes of their cardiovascular disease and so, for example, may not do the recommended amount of exercise if they do not perceive lack of exercise to be a cause of their cardiovascular disease.
Keywords: cardiovascular disease, public health, education programs, cardiac rehabilitation, lifestyle change, physical activity
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