Greenville, N.C. – June 30, 2021 – ECU Health Medical Center (VMC) is participating in TAKEHeart, a national initiative funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, to make a positive impact on the lives of patients by encouraging greater participation in cardiac rehabilitation. The initiative will help easily connect patients with cardiac rehabilitations services to improve their heart health and reduce the risk of future heart issues. As a TAKEHeart partner, VMC cardiac and pulmonary team members will receive advanced training, coaching and technical support as well as shared learning about cardiac rehabilitation best practices.
“Patients are more likely to survive an acute heart episode when they engage in cardiac rehabilitation,” said Stacey Greenway, director of cardiovascular disease management programs at VMC. “We know that only a small percentage of patients complete cardiac rehabilitation. Participating in TAKEHeart means bringing best practices and strategies in cardiac rehabilitation to Vidant and eastern North Carolina to improve outcomes for patients suffering from a cardiac episode.”
Approximately 1 million Americans have a coronary event or surgery each year, but only 20 percent are referred to cardiac rehabilitation. Among Medicare-eligible heart attack patients, only 6.5 percent complete the recommended cardiac rehabilitation sessions. Cardiac rehabilitation eases patients into heart-healthy exercises, nutrition education and education on how to manage risk factors such as stress. People who have cardiac rehabilitation after a heart episode have lower mortality rates, fewer hospital admissions and readmissions and higher quality of life.
The eastern North Carolina population faces a disproportionate risk of heart disease. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, patients who complete cardiac rehabilitation sessions have a 47 percent lower risk of death and a 31 percent lower risk of a heart attack than those who attend only one session.
“One of the most important benefits to patients participating in a cardiac rehabilitation program is learning how to take charge of their own health and become more engaged partners with their health care team,” Dr. Noel Peterson, cardiologist at Vidant Health, said. “Our care teams are excited to continue to partner with patients and provide advanced cardiac rehabilitation services to eastern North Carolina.”
Cardiac rehabilitation is a combination of medical care and counseling to improve cardiovascular health after a heart attack, heart failure, angioplasty, or heart surgery has taken place. It may include exercise counseling and training, lifestyle education (e.g., nutrition and reducing risk factors) and efforts to manage stress.
“It is broader than just diet and exercise,” said Greenway. “Factors like learning how to be more proactive about health and providing better access to resources can make an impact. Living in a rural area can create a barrier to resources, which makes these initiatives so critical to this region. By providing improved access to rehabilitation services, we can help patients find creative ways to improve their heart health through ongoing education and lifestyle changes.”