Thousands of new patients are now eligible for cardiac rehab program at Galter LifeCenter, one of the city’s only certified medical fitness facilities
CHICAGO (April 24, 2014) – A recent change in Medicare reimbursement regulations is helping to save lives and reduce the chances of hospitalization for Chicago heart failure patients by providing access to an important lifestyle and fitness program.
The cardiac rehabilitation program at Swedish Covenant Hospital, housed in Galter LifeCenter, Chicago’s premiere medical fitness facility, provides patients with exercise management and lifestyle modification tools under the supervision of experienced medical professionals.
Previously, Medicare covered cardiac rehabilitation for patients who have suffered from an acute heart incident, such as a heart attack. In a recent decision memo, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) expanded coverage to include the more than five million Americans living with chronic heart failure.
“The cardiac rehabilitation program at Swedish Covenant Hospital, which is the largest and longest running program in the state, has helped many patients get back on track after an acute heart event, such as a heart attack or heart surgery,” says Kathryn Donofrio, associate vice president of nursing and director of cardiology. “This change will now allow patients with chronic heart failure to have greater access to our exercise and lifestyle modification program which can greatly improve outcomes and, in turn, lower hospital readmissions.”
The cardiac rehabilitation program at Swedish Covenant Hospital provides patients with a streamlined program to improve their health in a bright, welcoming environment. It incorporates medically supervised exercise, lifestyle adjustment and group support, and focuses on topics that include: weight gain due to fluid retention, blood pressure, medication management, nutrition, exercise and smoking cessation. Patients work with trained exercise physiologists, physicians, nurses, dietitians, health psychologists and other experts to create a customized health plan.
“People with heart failure can now come and get covered for 12 weeks of exercise and lifestyle modification,” says Linda Granato, cardiac rehabilitation supervisor. “It also trains them to look for signs that they’re holding fluids and about medication compliance. We’re hoping that these strategies help keep them out of the hospital.”
Swedish Covenant Hospital has more than 1,100 patient admissions for heart failure every year, and the condition is one of the leading causes of hospitalization for people above the age of 65. For patients with heart failure, the muscles in the heart wall weaken and enlarge over time, preventing it from adequately pumping blood throughout the body. This can result in symptoms such as tiredness, shortness of breath, edema (a buildup of fluid in the feet, ankles and legs), confusion and weight gain.
The results of a heart trial, Heart Failure-A Controlled Trial Investigating Outcomes of Exercise Training (HF-ACTION), published five years ago, have widely been cited as evidence that there can be positive effects of regular exercise for heart failure patients. In secondary analyses, the study, which followed 2,331 patients, found that regular exercise was associated with better overall health in individuals with heart failure.
To ensure the safety of patients in the program, people with heart failure must meet several eligibility requirements for cardiac rehabilitation. Patients must: have heart failure with left ventricular ejection fraction of 35 percent or less; be on optimal medical management; and, they must not have had a major cardiovascular event in the past six weeks.
For more information about the benefits of Swedish Covenant Hospital’s cardiac rehabilitation program, please visit SwedishCovenant.org/heartservices
About Galter LifeCenter
Galter LifeCenter is Chicago’s premier medical fitness center and a proud member of the Medical Fitness Association. Its services go far beyond those of a traditional fitness center by focusing on medical fitness and partnering with health professionals at Swedish Covenant Hospital. Galter LifeCenter’s professional staff, clean and safe environment, health risk screening procedures and clinical integration allow members to safely set and reach their health and fitness goals.