Bouncing Back from Heart Attack: Renown’s Healthy Heart Program

If you or a loved one have suffered a heart attack or other serious heart event, it’s important to take steps toward prevention. Dr. Quinn Pauly explains how Renown’s Healthy Heart Program can help.

Living a healthy lifestyle is important for anyone with chronic health conditions. For patients with diabetes, cancer and heart issues, lifestyle changes can make a big difference and help reduce future risk. Renown’s Healthy Heart Program works with those who have had a heart attack or other heart event. We asked Quinn Pauly, M.D., to explain more about the program.

What is the Healthy Heart Program?

The Healthy Heart Program is intensive cardiac rehabilitation. Unlike traditional cardiac rehabilitation that focuses on exercise alone, intensive cardiac rehabilitation incorporates healthy eating and healthy thinking in addition to exercise.

The Healthy Heart Program focuses on changing your daily lifestyle. That means eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising at least 30 minutes each day and working to reduce stress.

The program spans 12 weeks and 36 visits. During the initial visits, we craft an individualized treatment plan based on the patient’s overall health, fitness level and diet. Visits are divided into two sessions; one focusing on exercise, the other on education. Since many patients who have endured a cardiac event are also suffering from depression, we take mental health into account as well.

RELATED:  Common Heart Attack Signs: What to Watch

Who can participate?

Anyone who has experienced a heart event can be referred to the Healthy Heart Program. And the Healthy Heart Program is designed to welcome spouses and significant others during visits so that our patients can have their biggest supporters nearby. Spouses and significant others are encouraged to participate in all aspects of the patient’s treatment except for exercise. They’re free to attend the diet and cooking classes and healthy mindset lectures, and during exercise, they can relax in our comfortable waiting area.

Cardiac rehabilitation is an important part of medical care following a heart event. The benefits include:

  • Reduced risk of future heart problems
  • Decreased pain and the need for medicines to treat blood pressure or chest pain
  • Lower chance that you’ll return to the hospital for a heart problem
  • Improved overall health by reducing risk factors for heart problems
  • Improved quality of life, making it easier to work, take part in social activities and exercise

What lifestyle changes would you recommend for everyone, not just those who’ve had a heart event?

We all know living a healthy life can be a challenge, especially in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. According to the World Health Organization, 80 percent of all heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes can be prevented with healthier lifestyle.

It’s important to balance your meals: Focus on fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. Eat slowly and make sure you stop eating when you’re satisfied, not stuffed.

Try to move more. This can be as simple as parking further away and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. If finding a half hour at once is hard, focus on 10-minute breaks throughout the day to accumulate your 30 minutes of exercise.

Set realistic goals and work your way up. Once you make your “starter” goals a habit, reward yourself and set a new, more challenging goal.

If you’re struggling to do it on your own, you can meet with registered dietitians with our Health Improvement Programs to help get you started and support you along the way.

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