In our VitalBlog we frequently share our thoughts and opinions on healthcare-related topics.

The Most Important Twelve Weeks in the Rest of Your Life

Dr. Lester Wold wrote this on Tuesday, August 8, 2017

If you could do something for twelve weeks that improves your chances of survival and decreases your risk of being admitted to the hospital, would you do it?  Most of us would jump at the chance to invest a small amount of time each day to do something that would have that sort of positive return.  For those who have had a cardiac event such as a myocardial infarction (heart attack), heart surgery or angioplasty, cardiac rehabilitation can do just that – improve your heart health, decrease your risk of readmission to hospital, and decrease your risk of dying in the near future.

Cardiac rehabilitation is a formal program that can be completed in a few months. It includes a number of important areas for heart health (diet, exercise and other counseling activities) and involves the patient and health care providers (counselors, dieticians and others).  Completing a cardiac rehabilitation program has been shown to reduce the risk of reinfarction by approximately 46% and reduce cardiac related mortality by approximately 36%. Patients who have had a percutaneous coronary intervention or coronary artery bypass who complete a cardiac rehab program reduce their risk of death (all cause mortality) 20% to 50%. With such incredible statistics why doesn’t everyone who has had a cardiac event complete a cardiac rehab program?

There are likely many reasons why individuals do not complete a full cardiac rehab program, but one of them may be that it is too difficult to access a rehab facility and too difficult to maintain the energy and enthusiasm to complete the program. Recently the use of wearables (such as Fitbit®) and digital devices (such as digital scales) have been helpful in easing the burden on tracking objective data for patients who have had a cardiac event. Such tools can also be linked to individualized cardiac rehab plans based upon patient input at the start of the program. Remote patient monitoring via wearables and digital scales can automatically track whether a patient is falling off of their individualized rehab plan. In such cases, automated alerts can be delivered to counselors and other care providers so the patient can be called and counseled to continue their rehabilitation program.

Another one of the potential barriers to completing a cardiac rehab program is that multiple people may be involved given the multifactorial nature of the heart problem. It is common that the team of individuals supporting the patient includes a physician, nurse, dietician, pharmacist and family members. Coordinating communication between all of the team members can be a challenge. Having a solution that supports automated alerts to individuals in each of these caregiver roles can help encourage a patient to stay on their rehab plan.

VitalHealth Software has developed a cloud-based solution to aid patients and providers in exactly this manner. This solution improves the chances of a patient completing a full cardiac rehabilitation program and therefore improves the patient’s probability of surviving and thriving.

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