Scientific studies show that people who complete a cardiac rehabilitation program following a heart attack or bypass surgery can increase their life expectancy by up to five years, and have:
27 percent lower cardiac death rates,
25 percent fewer fatal heart attacks, and
An improved quality of life.
Cardiac rehabilitation occurs in three phases. Phase 1 begins during inpatient hospitalization under physician management. Phase 2 is a medically supervised outpatient program that begins following discharge to slow or even reverse the progression of the underlying hardening and narrowing of the arteries due to plaque. Phase 3 is a lifetime maintenance program with periodic follow-up.
Rural Veteran patient participation in sustained Phase 2 rehabilitation is a challenge due to limited transportation options, geographic barriers and lack of proximity to specialized cardiac facilities. To reduce these Veterans’ barriers to care, VA piloted a home-based cardiac rehabilitation program which recently earned the distinction of being a VA Office of Rural Health (ORH) Rural Promising Practice, and is being rolled out nationwide due to patients’ health outcomes and satisfaction.
This Rural Promising Practice enables Veteran patients to first meet in-person with a specialist to safely learn rehabilitation exercises, with subsequent sessions conducted at home. This model eliminates the need to travel multiple times a week to a rehabilitation facility for a sustained time frame, and enables patients to tailor the location and schedule of their ongoing 30-minute rehabilitation exercise sessions. Regularly scheduled phone calls with the rehabilitation specialist are dedicated to review curriculum that addresses risk factors, such as smoking cessation and proper nutrition. Other discussions focus on exercise, medication adherence and stress management.
The Office of Rural Health oversees Rural Promising Practices as part of its portfolio of enterprise-wide initiatives. These 40+ initiatives help increase access to care for the 3 million Veterans living in rural communities who rely on VA for health care. To learn more, visit www.ruralhealth.va.gov or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions or would like additional information about ORH, contact ORH Communications.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Office of Rural Health (ORH) implements a targeted, solution-driven approach to increase access to care for the 3 million Veterans living in rural communities who rely on VA for health care. As VA’s lead advocate for rural Veterans, ORH works to see that America’s Veterans thrive in rural communities. To accomplish this, ORH leverages its resources to study, innovate and spread enterprise-wide initiatives through partnerships.To learn more, visit www.ruralhealth.va.gov.