Doctors stress the importance of cardiac rehabilitation

Diet, exercise changes essential to preventing more heart attacks, they say


HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – We all know how important exercise is for our heart health, but if you've had a heart attack, being active is even more vital.

People who don't exercise are much more likely to have a second heart attack or worse.

In today's "Heart of South Florida" report, we take a closer look at the benefits of cardiac rehabilitation.

Mark Scanell  is not your typical heart patient. Scanell looks fit and is only 47 years old.

But this married operations manager also admits he's a workaholic whose had not one -- but two -- heart attacks.

"I had severe pain in my arm. I was really hot and sweating really bad, then I got nauseated and really really sick," Scanell said.

Scanell first thought he had heat stroke from working in his yard. The reason acually was three blocked arteries.

He can't change the past, but with cardiac rehabilitation, Scanell can change his heart's future.

At Memorial Healthcare Gym, Scanell is carefully monitored, building up strength in his most important muscle: his heart.

Cardiac rehab is extremely beneficial. It decreases the chance of death after a heart attack and decreases the chances of having a weak heart or heart failure after a heart attack. It also decreases the chances of coming back to a hospital after a heart attack.

Scanell exercises about an hour and a half to two hours every day, but doctors say even five minutes a day is good for your heart.

The bare minimum is five minutes. Just walking can be beneficial and better than nothing. The more you do, the better.

That's why cardiac rehab programs are so important. Therapists work with patients to slowly and steadily to make hearts stronger and healthier.

For Scanell, it's become a normal part of his life.

"The day I don't exercise, I feel guilty," Scanell said. "I don't feel the same; I don't have the same energy level. That's the biggest thing for me."

In addition to regular exercise, Scanell is eating healthier; staying away from any foods out of boxes or cans. He's also enjoying a lot more fish and chicken.

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