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Cardiac Rehab: The Basics

Cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of women as well as men, and each year 935,000 Americans have a heart attack or other coronary event. The good news is that cardiac rehab (CR) is proven to reduce the likelihood of a second event. 

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What is cardiac rehab? Cardiac rehab is a medically supervised program consisting of exercise training, education on heart-healthy living, and counseling to reduce stress -- all of which can help patients return to an active lifestyle and recover more quickly.

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CR reduces hospital readmission, decreases health care costs, and improves the patients’ quality of life. But despite these clear benefits, only 12% of Medicare patients participate in CR programs.

Why is that?

One reason is currently there is a Medicare provision that only allows a physician to supervisor CR sessions. In some areas, that doctor-only requirement can really limit the number of patients that can receive CR, and increase its costs. 

We think allowing physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and clinical nurse specialists to supervise CR programs will increase access to more Americans. Patients will still receive the rehab they need under medical supervision. Also, with this change in place, hospitals and other entities would be better able to establish and maintain programs nationwide.

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In June, hundreds of You’re the Cure advocates will be in Washington, DC to advocate for this new policy. Stay tuned for ways to help urge your lawmakers to support increasing access for CR programs.

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