Cardiac Rehab Goes Beyond the Heart

Maggie_Grimm

Maggie Grimm is an assistant in the Cardiopulmonary Rehab department at Upland Hills Health. She assists the staff in the day-to-day functions and operations of the program including patient care and development of educational materials.

Upland Hills Health Cardiac Rehabilitation Program opened its doors 20 years ago in October of 1998, led by Rebecca Tank and Marianne Crowley. Our staff has grown including the addition of Lance Maerz and Beth Runde. We have also continued to expand our services and in early October, we’ll celebrate serving nearly 1,800 patients.

More than Cardiac Rehab

Upland Hills Health Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation’s newest program is Peripheral Artery Disease Rehabilitation. Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) occurs when the arteries in your legs become narrowed or blocked with plaque- a fatty material that limits blood flow within arteries. Similar to clogged arteries in the heart, clogged arteries in the legs increase risk for heart attack and stroke.

The number one cause of PAD is smoking. Smoking speeds up the build-up of plaque in the artery walls, worsening PAD symptoms. Other risk factors include age, gender, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and family history of vascular problems.

The characteristic symptom of PAD is claudication, a term used for pain or cramping that can occur in the legs, thighs, or buttocks after a short walk. This pain goes away shortly after starting, but returns when you begin to move again.

Studies show that structured walking programs are one of the best treatments for reducing claudication, and that a walking program can be more effective than medicine or surgery! With the help of Upland Hills Health’s Peripheral Artery Disease Rehabilitation Program, which features exercise, education, and guidance for a “heart-healthy” lifestyle, many are be able to walk longer with less pain. After completion of the program, our patients have had an average improvement of doubling their ability to walk pain-free and increasing their maximal walking distance almost four-fold.

Who Uses Cardiac Rehab at UHH?

The Heart, Lung and Sleep Center at UHH has programs and options to help those who have experienced vascular or chronic conditions, such as:

  • Heart Failure: when the heart does not pump as well as it should
  • Heart Attack: when blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely
  • Stable Angina: when the heart muscle needs more blood and oxygen than it is getting. For example, during times of physical activity or strong emotions. This is called “stable” angina as the discomfort is usually predictable and manageable.
  • Atrial fibrillation: an irregular, often rapid heart rate that can increase risk for stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related complications
  • Diabetes: a chronic disease where the pancreas either produces little or no insulin, or the cells do not react correctly to the insulin that is produced. High levels of glucose build up in the blood and may cause serious health complications including high blood pressure and cholesterol, heart disease and stroke, eye problems, infections, kidney damage, and nerve damage.
  • High blood pressure: when the heart pumping blood through the blood vessels and too much pressue is created against the vessel walls due to vessel stiffness caused by blockages, stress, excess weight, too much sodium or fluid in the diet, smoking, or diabetes
  • High cholesterol: too much cholesterol can build up inside the arteries and create a plaque, which narrows the arteries and can decrease or cut off blood flow to the brain, heart, and legs.
  • Long QT syndrome: a heart rhythm condition that can potentially cause fast, chaotic heart beats
  • Enlarged heart (or Cardiomegaly): an enlarged heart may not pump blood effectively, resulting in congestive heart failure.
  • Cardiomyopathy: a disease of the heart muscle that makes it harder for the heart to pump blood the rest of the body and can lead to heart failure

Patients can complete a cardiac or pulmonary rehab program and move into a health maintenance exercise program. Other services and programs UHH offers include Pulmonary Rehabilitation, Enhanced External Counterpulsation (EECP) Therapy, and our unique Cancer Empowerment Program: Fit to Fight.