Cardiovascular disease (CVD) includes conditions such as angina, heart attack and stroke. CVS is caused by a number of risk factors, including smoking, high blood pressure, high amounts of fat intake, and diabetes. These can lead to a gradual buildup of plaque in the arteries of the heart or brain, causing them to narrow and restrict blood flow. If a piece of this plaque breaks away from the artery wall it can cause a clot to form which may lodge in an artery, cutting off blood supply to the heart (resulting in heart attack) or brain (leading to stroke).
CVD is a leading cause of death in Canada; approximately 90% of Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease.
Physiotherapy is part of the healthcare team that can help you recover from CVD, or better yet- help to prevent it in the first place. Physiotherapists are a key player in your cardiovascular rehabilitation (CR) program. If you are hospitalized because of CVD, a physiotherapist may help you recover by assisting you with mobility, providing you with exercise programs to help you recover, and teaching you how to exercises safely following your hospitalization. You may be referred to a Cardiac Rehab program in your community, where treatment by a physiotherapist can have a significant impact on your physical function and overall quality of life (QOL). Exercise, especially aerobic conditioning and strength training, is one of the most effective ways to prevent death or disability from CVD. Physical therapists are experts in prescribing exercise as part of a structured, safe and effective rehab program.