The Aiken Cardiac Rehabilitation Program

February 07, 2018
The Aiken Cardiac Rehabilitation Program

If you've experienced a recent cardiac event such as a heart attack, open heart surgery, angioplasty or heart failure, it’s important to have support recovering and staying healthy for the long haul. That’s what you’ll find at the Aiken Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, where Aiken Regional Medical Centers, the University of South Carolina Aiken (USCA) and volunteers from the Mended Hearts organization come together to provide a special healing experience.

The Aiken Regional/USCA Collaboration

Located in the USCA Wellness Center, the outpatient Aiken Cardiac Rehabilitation Program is jointly operated by Aiken Regional and USCA. “It’s such a good relationship,” says Holly Guy, cardiac rehabilitation program coordinator. The students are excited about what they’re doing and are always very interactive with patients, checking heart rates, blood pressure and taking patients through their day-to-day exercises, she says.

Either a nurse or paramedic is always present. Also, patients are supported by an exercise physiologist and supervising physician. Programs are individualized for each patient. We ask them, “How can we help you get back to where you need to be?’” says Guy. “Then we focus on those items.”

Learning how to stay heart-healthy is a big part of cardiac rehab. Classes include education on:

  • The heart

  • Heart treatments

  • Behavior change

  • Stress management

  • Label reading

  • Weight management

  • Medications

  • Exercise

  • Risk factors

  • Dining out

  • Lipids

Exercise, Strength Building and So Much More

Patients typically attend 36 sessions over 12 weeks. Along with exercise, there is an important educational component that focuses on how to manage risk factors for heart disease and maintain a heart-healthy lifestyle. One of the goals is to instill lifelong tips and information that patients can take with them, Guy notes.

During rehab, patients form bonds and relationships with one another. It’s not officially a support group, but it is in a way, says Guy. “There is that support system built in.”

Among other services, patients can receive individualized help from a dietitian and a clinical psychologist, as well as employment-related assistance through a connection with South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation. Also, volunteers from the Mended Hearts organization, who have experienced heart issues, visit patients in cardiac rehab to provide support and encouragement.

The collaboration with USCA and strong community support make the program special, says Lisa Pagani Davis, BA, RT(R), (CV), radiology and cardiovascular services director at Aiken Regional. “There is that sense of ownership and asking, ‘What can we to do help one another and provide excellence?’”

Learn more about our cardiovascular services.

Outpatient cardiac rehabilitation is covered by most insurance companies, including Medicare. However, coverage may vary depending on diagnosis and insurance provider. Check with your provider for specific questions about your coverage.