Experts from Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program Offer Advice to Heal Your Heart
As part of its September health awareness campaign, ‘Know Your Heart’, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is showcasing the work of its innovative Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, which provides exercise and education programs for people recovering from heart illness.
Cardiovascular diseases are disorders of the heart and blood vessels and are the leading cause of death globally, resulting in approximately 17.9 million deaths per year. Examples of cardiovascular disease include coronary heart disease, rheumatic heart disease and heart failure, which are common effects of behavioral risk factors such as following an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and tobacco use.
The Cardiac Rehabilitation Program involves a series of educational sessions to help patients recover that includes advice on stress management and nutrition, as well as medication management and diabetes treatment. Even for people who have not suffered heart disease, the advice can be applied to support healthier lifestyles.
“It is important for those at risk or who have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease to know that it is possible to reverse damage to your heart. Committing to changing what you eat, how often you exercise and how you manage stress will immediately begin the healing process,” said Mahmoud Al Tamimi, Supervisor, Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.
“Even for people who are merely concerned about their heart health, there are simple steps that you can take. Your diet and exercise regimen should provide your heart with the nutrients it needs to heal and strengthen the heart’s ability to pump blood throughout the body,” added Al Tamimi.
A healthy, well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy and low in salt and saturated fats helps to maintain blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which in turn reduces heart disease. Heart-healthy dietary patterns also lower the risk of other chronic diseases like dementia, diabetes and some cancers.
Alongside diet reform, diagnosed or at-risk patients should exercise to strengthen and heal the heart. Regular exercise lessens the likelihood of arrhythmias and affects the sympathetic nervous system, which reduces heart rate and allows the muscle to work more efficiently. Exercise also lowers blood pressure and improves lipid profile and glucose processing.
The final tool recommended to heal the heart is stress management. Unmanaged stress, particularly stress-related anger and hostility can result in high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms and damage to arteries, elevated cholesterol levels and a weakened immune system. In times of stress, people also turn to harmful habits like cigarette smoking and overeating, all of which increase the risk for heart diseases.
“A patient’s emotional wellbeing is integral to the recovery process – to optimize physical wellness, we must also concentrate on the mind. Seek help and support to learn how to manage anxiety, stress, anger, and depression. While medication and surgery are fundamental to treating the immediate condition, emotional wellbeing is key to treating the underlying causes,” said Al Tamimi.
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s cardiac rehabilitation program includes sessions in the hospital’s advanced gymnasium, which is equipped with portable telemetry units to monitor patients’ hearts as they work out. The program starts with a first phase of inpatient rehabilitation and continues onto a second phase of outpatient rehabilitation.
People who want to know more about the risks of heart disease and the steps they can take to reduce them can visit knowyourheart.clevelandclinicabudhabi.ae.