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Coronary Heart Disease

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Having a cardiac episode can be frightening and anxious experience for both yourself and your family and friends. Research and evidence has shown that increasing your physical activity levels significantly improve morbidity, but can also reduce mortality in patients who suffered a heart attack.

Following a cardiac event, you are most likely to be apprehensive about starting or going back to an exercise programme. We have listed some important do's and don'ts which need to be taken into consideration so that you exercise safely and minimise the risk of further complications.

Do

  • Ensure that a progressive warm-up is undertaken (which includes pulse raising, mobility and preparatory stretching) for a minimum of 15 minutes (this will help dilate the arteries and promote coronary blood flow) This should be to RPE 10-11 
  • Resistance training should include 1 set of 10-15 repetitions for 8-10 major muscle groups. 
  • Aerobic training i.e. walking is the primary aim of any programme for cardiac patients. The aim should be complete 20-60mins. RPE 12-14 
  • At the end of exercise it is very important to undertake a  cool down for a minimum of 10 minutes. The aim should be to slowly reduce the heart rate back to a pre-exercise level. The rationale for this is due to an increase in risk of hypotension and arrhythmias immediately after exercise. 

Don’t

  • Don’t intersperse your routine with exercises that are performed lying down. This could lead to arrhythmias and also orthostatic hypertension when returning to an upright position. Any exercise performed lying down should be included after an active 10 minute cool down.  
  • Ensure you do not take long periods of rest between exercises (therefore avoiding a drop in heart rate). The exception being the onset of angina.  
  • Avoid isometric exercises or sustained overhead arm work and over gripping of equipment. This can lead to an increase in blood pressure  
  • Avoid high intensity exercises using isolated muscle groups e.g. arms only. Combined leg and arm work is recommended.  

What is Coronary Heart Disease?

Coronary heart disease begins when the coronary arteries – the arteries on the surface of the heart that supply the heart muscle with blood Atheroma– become graduallyfurred up with a fatty material called atheromaIn time the artery may become so narrow that it cannot deliver enough oxygen-containing blood to the heartmuscle when it needs it – such as when you are doing exercise. The pain or discomfort that happens as a result is calledangina.