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CARDIOLOGIST IN DODDABOMMASANDRA, BANGALORE Cardiac rehabilitation Although rehabilitation has been a part of the management of patients following a myocardial infarction since the beginning of the last century, ideas have changed radically about the form this should take. In the early 1900s Sir Thomas Lewis insisted his patients remain in bed and be ‘guarded by day and night nursing and helped in every way to avoid voluntary movement or effort’. These severe restrictions were continued for at least six to eight weeks. The thinking was that complete rest would reduce the risk of aneurysm formation and avoid hypoxia that might cause arrhythmias. Even after discharge mild exertion was discouraged for up to a year and return to work was most unusual. In the 1970s periods of bed rest of between one and four weeks were enforced and patients remained in hospital for up to four weeks. It is now clear that this de-conditioning has many adverse physical and psychological effects. Patients with uncomplicated infarcts are now mobilised in hospital within a day or so of admission and are often discharged on the third day if successful primary angioplasty has been performed. Many hospitals provide a supervised rehabilitation program for patients who have had an infarct or episode of unstable angina. The program begins in hospital as soon as possible after admission. It includes a graded exercise regimen and advice about risk factor control. Such programs have many benefits for patients to help them to return quickly to normal life, including work and sexual activity. The supervised exercise regimen helps restore the patient’s confidence. There is clear evidence of the benefits of exercise for patients with ischaemic heart disease.54 Rehabilitation programs have been shown to be cost-effective. Well-conducted programs are tailored to individual patients’ needs and are very popular with many patients.55 There are often long-term exercise groups available for people who have completed the formal classes. Non-cardiac causes of chest pain Pulmonary embolism
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