American Heart Month: Keeping Your Patients Healthy

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National American Heart Month: Staying Heart Healthy in a Wheelchair


Get your patients off to a fresh start this year by celebrating American Heart Month in February. One in every four deaths is attributed to heart issues. How can you help combat this? Show your patients how to best love themselves by taking care of their heart with these simple heart healthy moves.

1. Minimize Stress

Most people have some degree of stress in their life. Whether it is prolonged periods of stress or short situational bursts of stress, it is incredibly damaging to the body. It causes your heart rate and blood pressure to rise, which leads to the damaging of artery walls over time.

One great form of exercise that has helped many reduce stress is yoga. Incorporate mindful stretching exercises into your patient treatment plans. Encourage deep breathing throughout each of their moves.

2. Get Regular Exercise

a. Cardio

At a minimum, you should be encouraging patients to have 150 minutes of exercise throughout the course of 1 week. You can help your patients find an aerobic exercise that works for their energy level and is safe for them to do on their own. For example, those with a knee injury may not be able to run, but can practice running on the treadmill during your sessions. A patient with a shoulder injury could slowly pick up the pace on a stationary bike.

b. Weight Training

Many patients are likely recovering from a muscle injury or would at least benefit from muscle strengthening exercises. It’s important to keep oxygen flowing to the muscles and keep the body moving for optimal heart health. They don’t need to actually lift weights, but can use exercise bands to start building muscle.

3. Educate on Signs of Heart Trouble

Heart disease is far too common, and the signs of damage are often overlooked. Be sure to let your patients know what to look out for.

  • Chest Pain

  • Right Arm Pain

  • High Blood Pressure

  • Health Palpitations

4. Creating a Healthy Diet

A healthy heart is all about exercise and diet. While we aren’t all licensed dietitians, we are able to encourage our patients to choose heart-healthy food options. Nutrition is in the scope of care and should never be overlooked. Overall, you should encourage a colorful plate with fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains.

Become a NARA member to take advantage of our resources for rehabilitation providers to keep your patients healthy.