Cardiac rehabilitation : does it add years to life, or life to years? : an honors thesis (HONRS 499)
Cardiac rehabilitation has come under scrutiny because of the controversy over its benefits. The value gained from rehabilitation is not necessarily a longer life, although many in cardiac rehabilitation do experience a prolonged life. For this reason, rehabilitation programs have adapted their goal from lengthening life to improving the quality of one's life in his/her remaining years. Cardiac rehabilitation can increase the quality of life by educating patients about heart disease, and providing a exercise setting where patients can learn to exercise safely and correctly. The education about heart disease involves identifying factors that increase the risk for developing the disease, along with information about how to control these risk factors. Promising studies have found that exercise tends to have a positive influence on most of the risk factors for heart disease. The first section examines the role of the risk factors in contributing to heart disease, followed by the influence exercise has over these risk factors in the second section.In order to continue to manage the risk factors, exercise must be a lifelong activity, as the conditioning gained from training diminish when exercise is not continued. Since rehabilitation is a lifelong process, compliance with exercise prescription and risk factor modification becomes a problem with most people. The final chapter will explore the common characteristics in people who are not compliant with behavior change, along with the factors that have been found to increase motivation for compliance. Early recognition of the characteristics in noncompliers, as well as the incorporation of motivation techniques, can allow the rehabilitation staff to minimize the noncompliance in their program.