Tough, traumatic road to recovery

November 07, 2017

Cardiac rehab nurse Christine Robey (right) with exercise physio Michelle McIntosh.


For many cardiac rehabilitation patients, the recovery process can be one of the most traumatic experiences of their life.

The process is a long, painful journey for many and has the ability to completely change a life, for better or worse.

But a Goulburn Valley Health program aimed at rehabilitating patients hopes to take the stress away.

It was introduced as an avenue for patients to reduce their risk factors for further heart issues.

Cardiac rehabilitation nurse co-ordinator Christine Robey has worked in her role for more than a decade and said all patients who entered the program hopefully leave with a better awareness of their health.

Many of the patients tend to be men, but every demographic, from 30 to 80, has walked through the door.

All of the patients have had a heart attack or a form of heart surgery, before they head to the program to start the eight-week recovery process.

The journey starts with a consultation, before each person commits to a weekly session, involving exercise as well as health worker speakers.

Program specialists design an exercise program unique to each individual, which usually centres around cardiovascular exercises and weights which increase in intensity.

‘‘If you’ve had bypass surgery, it can be very painful and it can be very frustrating,’’ Ms Robey said.

‘‘It can be painful for a while and most people can’t drive or do anything like gardening of lift anything heavy for months.

‘‘Some of them can get the blues, in fact that’s very common, and we’ve got a social worker here who can talk them them and help them through the process.’’

Heart rehabilitation services are available in Shepparton, Benalla, Numurkah, Seymour and Kyabram.

The aim of the program is to reduce risky behaviours which often lead to heart issues, which include high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, a lack of exercise, diabetes and stress.

Ms Robey said most people finished the program with an improved attitude towards health, but others did not.

‘‘The program is proven to have benefits, but some can’t or don’t want to come and that’s fine,’’ Ms Robey said.

‘‘We want them to improve their exercise, motivate them to do things outside of there, so get them in that mind-set to exercise when they’re not here, and just help them to reduce their risk factors.

‘‘It has an enormous affect in the end.’’

Heart service to receive a funding boost

Murray Primary Health Network has announced almost $3million for chronic heart and lung disease services across central and northern Victoria.

Primary Care Connect will be among a number of organisations to receive grants of more than $80000 to invest in pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation clinics, improve quality of chronic illness care and help develop the primary health workforce.

The 12 successful tenderers will carry out work through partnerships with more than 50 rural and regional hospitals, health services, GP practices, universities and peak bodies.

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