Physical Therapy for Preventing and Treating Cardiovascular Diseases

Physical Therapy for Preventing and Treating Cardiovascular Diseases

Are you living with cardiovascular disease? Studies estimate that nearly half of all adults in the United States are living with some form of cardiovascular disease or CVD for short. Many of these people won’t even be fully aware of their condition, or the danger that it poses to their long-term health and wellbeing. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of premature death in the United States.

Fortunately, they don’t have to be. Cardiovascular diseases are preventable and treatable, meaning that you can potentially avoid them or, if you have already been diagnosed, have a treatment that could lessen their impact on your day-to-day life or eliminate them altogether. One of the treatments that have been proven to be extremely effective is physical therapy. 


Read on to find out more about cardiovascular diseases and how physical therapy can help.


What are Cardiovascular Diseases?


Cardiovascular diseases are conditions that affect the heart or blood vessels. You may also hear of the more general term, cardiovascular disease, being used instead of the individual names of the conditions that fall into this category. Some of the most well-known cardiovascular diseases include:


  • High blood pressure/hypertension

  • Heart disease

  • Angina

  • Stroke

  • Vascular dementia

  • Heart attack 


Cardiovascular diseases can affect anyone, but there are some factors that put you at greater risk of developing one or more CVDs. The biggest contributor is carrying excess weight, which can raise your blood pressure and cholesterol, directly affecting your heart and circulation. Other risk factors for CVD include:


  • Smoking

  • Excessive alcohol consumption

  • Persistently high levels of stress

  • A family history of cardiovascular diseases 

  • Men and people over the age of 65 are also at greater risk of developing cardiovascular problems. 


What is Cardiovascular Physical Therapy?


Also known as cardiac rehabilitation/cardiac rehab, this highly effective treatment is a customized outpatient program of care that focuses on both exercise and education to support patients who have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease or who have suffered a cardiac event, such as a heart attack.  


In short, there are four key goals of physical therapy for cardiovascular diseases. These are:


  • To help you to regain strength

  • To prevent your condition from worsening 

  • To reduce your risk of future heart problems

  • To improve your health and your quality of life


Since every patient is different and requires a bespoke CVD physical therapy treatment plan before you can begin your program of care you will need to be assessed by your physical therapy team. This will enable them to evaluate your current health and condition and create a tailored exercise program based on your needs. This could include all or a combination of the following:


Aerobic Conditioning

This is where the heart and lungs are gradually trained to pump blood around your body more efficiently, and as a result, the muscles and organs also receive more oxygen which improves their health and function. Some popular aerobic conditioning exercises including walking, cycling, swimming, and rowing. These exercises are also very good for reducing excess weight, which will also help to reduce your risk of developing CVDs or suffering a cardiac event. 


Strength Training

Also incorporating resistance training, this physical therapy technique can help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by increasing your lean muscle mass. Your cardiovascular system sends blood to your muscles, ensuring that less pressure is placed onto your arteries so that they don’t become damaged or overloaded. 


Lifestyle Advice


Lifestyle changes are often crucial in preventing cardiovascular diseases and events. Unfortunately, many people who suffer from CVDs don’t make the best choices when it comes to their diet, their activity levels, or their habits. Your physical therapist will support you in making positive lifestyle changes that will benefit your health and drastically reduce your risk of experiencing cardiovascular problems. For example, switching to a healthy, balanced diet, getting regular exercise, quitting smoking, and drinking plenty of water. You’ll also be given advice on how to manage any current health conditions that you have that may be affecting your cardiovascular system. 

Find out more about how physical therapy can help to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases, contact Apex Wellness at (917) 809-6752.

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