A healthy heart is fundamental to overall health and wellbeing. Your heart sits in your chest, behind the left-lower part of your rib-cage. It is made of specialised muscle and works as a two-sided pump with valves to circulate blood through your cardiovascular system (arteries, capillaries and veins). The right side of your heart delivers blood to the lungs where oxygen is collected, and the left side of your heart delivers the oxygenated blood to your body’s organs (including the heart itself, via the coronary arteries).
Physical inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle are known and preventable risk factors for coronary artery disease and heart attack. Physiotherapy therefore plays an important role in education, prevention programs and cardiac rehabilitation programs. Your physiotherapist can assess your exercise capacity and advise you on exercise training. Physiotherapists can also offer advice on other issues that people with cardiac disease may require such as airways clearance techniques in the post operative period and the management of pain and breathlessness.
Physiotherapists often work in secondary prevention programs (cardiac rehabilitation programs). These programs offer education, supervised exercise training and support for people with heart failure or following a heart attack, stent or heart surgery (cardiac events) and are strongly recommended. The programs can be delivered in a variety of ways – including hospital and community based programs or tele-health or health coaching. There is strong evidence that participation in cardiac rehabilitation programs help to reduce the risk of ongoing heart problems (heart attacks, hospitalisations) and improve people’s quality of life after having had a cardiac event.