A heart attack, or heart surgery are life changing events in peoples’ lives – but what we don’t often hear about is what happens afterwards.
The road to recovery can sometimes take time. It requires a lot of patience and perseverance, and it is important that the right measures are in place to help support a person on this journey.
Cardiac rehabilitation is designed to help you get back to as full a life as possible following a cardiac event or diagnosis – like a heart attack, or treatment such as heart surgery or stent procedure.
Research has shown that cardiac rehab can reduce the risk of further cardiac events and readmission to hospital. The programme is designed to help you understand and come to terms with what has happened, provide support and guidance on lifestyle factors such as physical activity, eating a healthy balanced diet and emotional wellbeing, all of which need to be based around the individual. Cardiac rehab is often offered in a variety of settings and means leaving the house, as they are usually run in hospitals or leisure centres.
However, given the unprecedented times that we’re living in, being invited to a cardiac rehab programme is not currently a viable option. As we adapt to the new world and tackle the threat posed by Covid-19, it’s important that we remember that people are still having cardiac events and that we still need to deliver programmes to aid in their recovery.
Many cardiac rehab services where the person has to attend in person are being cancelled due to the coronavirus. Consequently, many people may be discharged form hospital with no cardiac rehab input, or advice about what they should be doing when they get home, and nowhere else to go for support. Many clinical leads we have spoken to fear that patients being discharged without access to this life changing support programme, will be readmitted with health concerns due to a combination of no cardiac rehab support and the uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 coronavirus.
Ensuring that people with heart and circulatory conditions continue to receive the care that they need remains a priority for us at the British Heart Foundation during the Covid-19 pandemic. As such, we need to be brave and adaptable
To make sure that everyone eligible has access to cardiac rehab is able to receive and complete this vital care, it is critical that it is delivered in new and innovative ways.
Adapting to the times
In order to help people at home to stay well during this time of uncertainty, we started to roll out an offering for people to access without leaving the house – the first stage of Cardiac Rehab at Home was introduced on Friday, 03 March.
To deliver this essential care, the first segment of our popular cardiac rehab DVD – My Personal Trainer – is now available online accompanied by our step-by-step guide. It is important that this guide, called My Personal Trainer: Your step-by-step guide, is downloaded and read before using the video as it will help make sure that you get the most out of the video.
The video features low level to moderate intensity exercises that would be taught in a cardiac rehab class, but that are easily doable in your own home.
We now have a new cardiac rehab hub which provides information about nutrition and emotional well being, which is usually available at face to face classes. We understand that cardiac rehab can be a way of connecting with others going through similar experiences, a connection which is at risk of being lost during these times of isolation. The support offer therefore features signposting to other forms of peer to peer support to help people connect with others during these times.
As long as the Covid-19 outbreak lasts, we will continue to support those who need and rely on the support of the charity, with more cardiac rehab resources being rolled out over the coming weeks and months.
If you are looking for further advice or somebody to talk to, visit our Heart Helpline guidance page.
Published on the BHF website on 02/04/2020