Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) at Sentara Heart is instrumental in a patient’s recovery following a cardiac event, such as a heart attack, valve surgery or heart transplant. All 12 Sentara hospitals offer cardiac rehab, while nine locations also offer pulmonary rehab for patients with chronic lung problems, such as emphysema, interstitial lung disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).These programs help thousands of patients every year.

The Sentara cardiac rehab team, comprised of a medical director, cardiac nurses, exercise physiologists, registered dietitians and other heart experts, guides patients through physical fitness programs and provides counseling and education on a range of topics, such as a heart-healthy diet, tobacco cessation and stress management. Specialists work one-on-one to help patients build endurance and stamina so they can return to the activities they love and improve their heart health.

The cardiac rehab programs at 10 Sentara hospitals are certified by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation.Two locations currently are seeking certification. In 2016, Sentara cardiac and pulmonary rehab programs expanded their service offerings to include:

Tobacco cessation program: In 2016, the registered nurses and exercise physiologists on the cardiac rehab team at Sentara Heart Hospital completed training to become certified tobacco cessation counselors.These experts are taking part in a pilot program aimed at reducing hospital readmissions for patients with congestive heart failure and heart disease by helping them to quit smoking.Tobacco cessation training and certification will expand to cardiac rehab team members at other hospital locations.

Yoga for a stronger heart: The cardiac rehab programs at Sentara Heart Hospital, Sentara Leigh Hospital and Sentara CarePlex Hospital added cardiac yoga to their service offerings. The classes are taught by a yoga instructor who has special training and is certified to work with cardiac patients. Research suggests that yoga-based programs help those with heart disease by lowering blood pressure, reducing stress and improving respiratory function and heart rate.

Music for better breathing: Music therapy is now part of the pulmonary rehab service offerings at Sentara Heart. Patients use deep breathing techniques while singing and humming to improve respiratory function. Studies show that music therapy, in conjunction with traditional therapies, reduces disease symptoms and improves quality of life and mental well-being in patients with chronic lung diseases.