Ensuring Patient Safety in Virtual Cardiac Rehab

March 25, 2022

Ensuring Patient Safety in Virtual Cardiac Rehab

One of the primary goals for a patient after having a heart event or surgery is learning how to safely resume or start exercise. Exercise is known to provide many physical and mental health benefits as well as reduce the risk of future or recurring cardiac events. It can also improve one’s capacity to perform activities of daily living (e.g., mowing the lawn, grocery shopping) and other physical activities one might enjoy (e.g., sports, spending time with active grandchildren). 

Following a cardiac-related admission, one is encouraged to participate in a cardiac rehabilitation program. In virtual cardiac rehab, patients can participate in this program from the convenience of their home, which may also address logistical barriers associated with traveling to a facility for rehab. It is important to know the measures taken to ensure the safety of patients exercising from home in virtual cardiac rehab. 

One hesitation or concern someone might have with virtual cardiac rehab is the impression that adverse health events may be more likely to occur with a patient exercising from home rather than being monitored in-person in traditional outpatient cardiac rehab. First, studies have shown that the occurrence of urgent health events does not differ significantly between these two settings. Similarly to traditional cardiac rehab, virtual cardiac rehab patients are educated on how to safely increase and maintain their tolerance to exercise. They are also educated on how to recognize and respond to signs or symptoms should they occur. General medical consultation in outpatient cardiac rehab may be limited to only the day-time hours of the facility during the week. Virtual cardiac rehab on the other hand allows for access to a virtual care manager during business hours, 7 days a week as well as to report any symptoms in the app if needed. Although, virtual programs still are not a replacement for emergency services and as usual, 911 should be contacted in emergencies.  

Care plans and progress updates are also reviewed and approved by a supervising medical director throughout the virtual cardiac rehab program. In addition, patients are given devices to monitor their vitals that support their exercise from home. It is beneficial in virtual cardiac rehab–as well as for any person planning to exercise on their own–to inform a supportive member that they will be exercising and have them nearby for assistance if needed.

One of the most important aspects of cardiac rehab is equipping patients to maintain the progress they established in the program for life after they graduate. In virtual cardiac rehab, patients are starting and finishing their program in their home and their community, the settings where they are already familiar with doing their daily activities. Therefore, it is anticipated that going into the maintenance phase of cardiac rehab will be a smooth transition for the patient.

Participating in a cardiac rehab program is encouraged for all patients who have recently had a cardiac event such as a heart attack, heart surgery, admission for heart failure, or another qualifying cardiac diagnosis. Talk to your doctor more about your option of virtual cardiac rehab and how to get a referral. You can also connect with a Program Coordinator to get additional information by calling (833) 426-6686, Option 1 for Enrollment.

FEATS IN HEARTBEATS  –  the moving analytics blog

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