Tag Archives: cardiac rehabilitation

The Mediterranean Diet for Your Heart

If you’re looking for the best menu for your heart, check out the Mediterranean Diet. This plan incorporates a lot of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and olive oil. It features fish and poultry—lean sources of protein—over red meat, which contains more saturated fat.

Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease. The diet has been associated with a lower level of bad cholesterol that’s more likely to build up deposits in your arteries.

Lexington Medical Center heart patient Thomas Harris learned all about the Mediterranean Diet while attending cardiac rehabilitation after open heart surgery last year. While Thomas has always led an active lifestyle, his old diet – high in saturated fat and processed foods – hurt his heart. After following the Mediterranean Diet for several months, his cholesterol is lower and he no longer has to take blood pressure medication. We introduce you to him in this WIS-TV news story.


“The typical American diet contains too many processed foods that are convenient and easy to eat on the go. They often contain too much sugar and processed flour,” said Lexington Medical Center cardiac rehabilitation dietitian Susan Wilkerson. “The more processed food is, the less nutritious. When we eat processed foods, we don’t get the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. We eat just to eat, not for our health. So we want to go back to eating whole foods.”

Mediterranean Diet Guidelines:
*Primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
*Replace butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil
*Use herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
*Limit red meat to no more than a few times a month
*Eat fish and poultry at least twice a week

Helping Heart Failure Patients Succeed

Nurse Navigator Provides Dedicated Support and Education

Heart failure – the diagnosis sounds scary. It’s the leading cause of hospitalization in people 65 and older. But with the right tools and treatment, patients can successfully manage this chronic disease.

Congestive heart failure, often called heart failure for short, occurs when the heart muscle no longer works as it should. The heart muscle walls can become too weak to pump blood out of the heart or they can become stiff so the heart doesn’t fill properly. Classic symptoms are shortness of breath during activity, fatigue and swelling.

Heart failure does not usually occur suddenly—symptoms happen gradually over time. Causes include coronary artery disease, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, lung disease and aortic stenosis. Although there is no cure for heart failure, progression of the disease can be dramatically slowed. Heart function can improve with medication, exercise, better nutrition and better self-management skills.

Lexington Medical Center treats about 800 patients a year with congestive heart failure as a primary diagnosis. Because of the importance and prominence of the disease, the hospital recently hired a nurse navigator specifically dedicated to helping patients with heart failure. Jenny Dailey, RN, MSN, spends her day supporting and educating patients with this disease.

“My job is to serve as the patient’s advocate,” Jenny said. “I visit with patients in the hospital and help determine what resources they need. That could include educating them about various ways to manage their disease or making sure they have follow-up appointments with their doctors after they leave the hospital. I also work with the family members and caregivers to make sure they understand the disease and how they can best help their loved ones.”

Jenny says monitoring weight gain is one of the most important ways patients can control their disease. “Patients need to understand the importance of a digital scale and daily weigh-ins,” she said. “A weight gain of three pounds in one day or five pounds in one week is significant for a patient with congestive heart failure because the weight gain is a result of fluid. Daily monitoring of weight is a simple yet quick way to determine if a patient is retaining fluid.”

A grant from the Lexington Medical Center Foundation funds digital scales for heart failure patients at the hospital. Upon admission, patients receive the scales and use them during their hospital stay while they learn about the importance of monitoring and managing their weight. They take the scales home with them after leaving the hospital so they can continue weighing themselves, recording their weight daily and reporting rapid weight gain to their doctor.

In addition to weight management, reducing sodium in the diet is important. Reading food labels and identifying the sodium content of food is important for patients with congestive heart failure.

But one of the most critical steps a patient can take after a hospital stay for heart failure is to participate in cardiac rehabilitation, which offers physician-prescribed exercise, risk factor modification and a psychological assessment to help evaluate a patient’s emotional status as it relates to their heart.

Support for heart failure patients at Lexington Medical Center continues beyond their hospital stay. “I want my patients to call me once they’re discharged if they have questions regarding anything,” said Jenny. “I want them to know that I am their advocate.”

To learn more about the Lexington Medical Center Foundation and how it helps patients, visit LMCFoundation.com

Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Programs Receive Prestigious Certification

Two of Lexington Medical Center’s cardiac rehabilitation programs and the hospital’s pulmonary rehabilitation program have received prestigious certification from the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR). The certification demonstrates that LMC’s cardiac rehabilitation and pulmonary rehabilitation programs are aligned with current evidence-based medicine and guidelines for appropriate and effective outpatient care of patients with cardiac issues.

Lexington Medical Center’s cardiac rehabilitation programs at the main hospital campus and at the hospital’s community medical center in Lexington received the certification. Cardiac Rehabilitation in Irmo just opened last year and must wait until next year to apply. Lexington Medical Center also achieved certification for its pulmonary rehabilitation program at the main hospital campus.

The goals of cardiac rehabilitation are to help patients recover from cardiac incidents, such as heart attack, stents or bypass surgery, and to help prevent another cardiac incident by developing healthy lifestyle habits through education and support.

Pulmonary rehabilitation is designed to help patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pulmonary fibrosis and other chronic respiratory conditions. Using exercise and education, it enables patients to increase their strength and endurance, improve their breathing and reduce shortness of breath. The program also helps them deal with the anxiety and depression often associated with living with chronic respiratory conditions.

“This national certification ensures that our cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation programs provide all of the required components to assist patients in achieving these goals,” said John Leech, manager of Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. “Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation at Lexington Medical Center are comprehensive programs with exercise, education, motivation and support that leads to the best possible outcomes.”

AACVPR-certified programs are awarded program certification after an extensive application process that details the program’s structure, individualized care plans, staff competencies and outcomes measurement. Certified programs are recognized as leaders in the field of cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation because they offer the most advanced practices available.

“We’re meeting a high level of patient care,” said Lesa Naughton, clinical coordinator of Cardiac Rehabilitation at Lexington Medical Center’s community medical center in Lexington. “Cardiac rehabilitation saves lives.”