The last several weeks this column has provided education regarding types of heart disease, tests to diagnose heart disease (EKG and Stress Tests) and treatment following a cardiac event (Cadiac Rehab). Occupational and Physical Therapy can also help those living with cardiovascular disease.

Living with a chronic condition like cardiovascular disease may bring about changes in physical abilities. A person may be weak and debilitated from hospitalization or medical illness. Sometimes, physical and occupational therapy are needed to build up strength and endurance prior to participating in Cardiac Rehab. Someone with cardiovascular disease may experience increased weakness, shortness of breath and/or extreme fatigue with routine activities. After a cardiac event, a person may be fearful of being physically active. In these cases, Physical and Occupational Therapy can help.

Physical and Occupational Therapy offers many benefits for people with cardiovascular disease. Working with the patient, the therapists can improve ability to carry out activities of daily living, reduce heart disease risk factors, improve quality of life, improve outlook and emotional stability, and increase the patient’s ability to manage cardiovascular disease. Physical and Occupational Therapists can help improve muscle strength and balance in therapy sessions and make recommendations for the patient to continue to participate in an exercise program once therapy is done. Therapists may also make recommendations to assist the patient conserve energy, reduce or prevent pain, simplify the activity, and improve safety and ease with daily routine.

Whether you were recently diagnosed with cardiovascular disease or been living with it for years, therapy may help you maintain or regain the skills needed to live a full and independent life. If you have any questions, call the Therapy Department, or talk to your Primary Care Provider.

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