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Cardiac Rehabilitation Week, Feb. 14-20 - - helping cardiac patients return to a normal life

February 18, 2016

Many heart attack survivors and cardiac surgery patients are cautious about participating in any type of exercise or activity after having a life-changing cardiovascular event.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Participating in a regular exercise program at a cardiac rehabilitation gym/program after a cardiac event is not only essential to maintaining good health, but critical in reducing the risk of another heart attack or other cardiovascular problems.

"We offer a medically safe environment where heart-attack, surgical, and congestive heart failure patients, under close supervision of cardiac health professionals, can discover what their limitations are and what they can do to alleviate their fears," said Heidi Szalai, manager of Cardiovascular Rehabilitation and Wellness at Baystate Medical Center.

Feb. 14-21 is National Cardiac Rehabilitation Week.

Baystate's program provides medically supervised rehab activities under the overall direction of a board-certified cardiologist. A highly qualified team of nurse clinicians and clinical exercise physiologists carefully craft individual programs designed to restore persons with heart disease to their optimal physical, psychological, social and vocational functioning.

The program includes exercise training in addition to lifestyle modification education for stress reduction, weight management, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking cessation, strength training and other prevention strategies. Benefits of participation include improved physical stamina, improved quality of life, reduction of lifestyle-related risks, increased knowledge of the heart-disease process, and oftentimes, improved self-confidence and self-esteem.

The state-of-the-art cardiac gym, located at Baystate Medical Center’s Tolosky Center at 3300 Main St. in Springfield, features the latest in cardiovascular workout equipment, including stationary bicycles, treadmills, rowing machines, and weight-training equipment. It also includes conference rooms for educational sessions, and locker/shower facilities.

Study after national study has shown that patients who attend even a few sessions can significantly increase their chances of achieving long-term cardiac health. Yet most people who have a heart attack or bypass surgery, and are at risk of a repeat, don’t go to rehab, and many who do go don’t stick with it.

“Studies show cardiac rehab saves lives in more ways than one. In addition to helping prevent cardiac death, participating in a cardiac rehab program can give someone their life back simply by giving them the confidence that, with exercise and exertion, nothing bad will happen to them,” said Dr. Aaron Kugelmass, vice president and medical director of the Heart & Vascular Program at Baystate Medical Center.

In addition to the cardiac gym located at the Tolosky Center, cardiac rehabilitation is also available in Greenfield at Baystate Franklin Medical Center on 164 High St. and in Westfield at Baystate Noble Hospital on 115 West Silver Street.

For more information on the Springfield program, call 413-794-7024; information about cardiac rehab in Greenfield, call 413-773-0211; and in Westfield at 413-568-2811. You can also visit baystatehealth.org/heart and click on support services for additional information.