Cardiac Rehabilitation: Watching for Changes

By Sophia Kroon

In honor of National Cardiac Rehabilitation Week, we are highlighting a unique monitoring system that ensures that any change in a patient’s condition triggers the appropriate medical response.

Because the care of a cardiovascular patient can be extremely complex, Pamela Zanes, District Director of Clinical Operations, recently implemented simple-to-use, but very effective, systems for monitoring the condition of each patient. Congestive Heart Failure Zone management uses information about breathing, swelling, weight gain, chest pain, and activity level to determine when a physician should be called. The Stop and Watch Early Warning Tool encourages anyone in the room to observe and report changes in patient behavior.

“Someone might notice something different, such as the patient is less talkative than the day before or a sudden weight gain that might be a sign of edema. Heart failure is a long-term condition with symptoms that can begin suddenly,” Zanes says.

With the goal of getting the patient ready to return -- and stay -- home, Kindred provides an array of hands-on therapeutic and interdisciplinary services that treat the whole patient. Cardiac patients receive:

  • physical therapy to improve walking and overall strength
  • occupational therapy to regain fine motor skills needed at home and/or work
  • speech therapy that also trains patients to eat and breathe more efficiently and take their medications properly
  • social services as needed

“Therapy provides strategies patients need to deal with obstacles in everyday life.  We discuss realistic goals with the patient and family, which can be something as simple as using the bathroom on their own. Even this can be very difficult, but an important step in helping patients regain their independence and dignity,” says Zanes. “We also try to make a home visit to see if there are any challenges we did not anticipate, such as steps in a bathroom or a large SUV that’s hard to get in and out of.”

National Cardiac Rehabilitation Week is February 10 - 16, 2013.  For more information click here.