Most of us know someone who has had a heart attack, a stroke or high blood pressure, all of which are forms of heart disease.

Some staggering statistics on heart disease:

  • In 2006 alone, 631,636 people (roughly 1 in 4 individuals) died of heart disease.
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women, and half of those deaths are in women.
  • Coronary artery disease in 2005 resulted in 445,687 deaths.
  • Every year, 785,000 Americans have their first heart attack, and 470,000 people have their second or third heart attacks.

In 2010 alone, health care costs associated with heart disease will cost the United States $316.4 billion dollars in lost productivity, medications and health care services.

The key to curbing rising health care costs associated with heart disease is prevention.  Establishing a healthy diet, an exercise routine, quitting smoking, and managing stress levels are ways to help prevent heart disease and lower your risk factors.  These are great recommendations to help prevent heart disease in healthy individuals.  But what if you have already have signs or complications of heart disease?

Phase II Cardiac Rehabilitation is an outpatient program that a cardiologist would prescribe to someone who has had a recent heart attack or another qualifying diagnosis related to heart disease.   Components of this program include: Patient monitoring, education, lifestyle coaching and help transitioning back to work.   Typically in a Phase II program, you have nurses, dieticians and an exercise physiologist who will help develop a well-rounded program to help you transition back into a normal life routine.

Statistics on the benefits of participation in a Phase II Cardiac Rehabilitation Program versus non-participation:

95% three year survival rate for those who participated in cardiac rehab versus 64% for those who did not participate

25% reduction in risk of recurrent heart attack

45% mortality risk reduction by following a heart healthy diet

30% mortality risk reduction by lowering blood pressure

15% mortality risk reduction BMI less than 30

35% mortality risk reduction by quitting tobacco

50% mortality risk reduction treat depression and psychosocial issues

Phase II programs are covered by most insurance. Check with your health care provider or cardiologist to see if you have a qualifying condition for cardiac rehabilitation.  You may qualify for a Phase II Cardiac Rehabilitation program if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Stable angina
  • Heart attack or more commonly referred to as an MI
  • Angioplasty
  • Coronary stent
  • Coronary artery bypass surgery
  • Heart valve surgery

If you are interested in a Phase II program, contact your health care provider, cardiologist or local hospital to see if there is a program in your area.

Adopting a low-sodium, low-fat diet such as that recommended by the American Heart Association, managing chronic diseases such as Type 1 and 2 Diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol, and exercising 30 to 60 minutes on most days of the week will help to reduce your risk factors for developing heart disease and preventing premature death.

You heart will thank you for it!

Kevin DiDonato is a certified personal trainer and professional health educator who works in Bangor.