Lourdes Health making cardiac rehab more convenient

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A hospital in South Jersey is using new technology to help more patients recover after heart attack or stroke. (WPVI)

Studies show people who do the rehab after suffering a heart problem are more likely to live longer and healthier lives.

So a hospital in South Jersey is making the therapy more convenient.

The fitness machines at the Lourdes Health Cardiac Rehab center aren't as busy as they used to be.

There are just as many patients are assigned there, but some can now get their exercise where it suits them best.

David Bye of Carneys Point is one of them.

Last year, after heart valve replacement, he and his doctor decided cardiac rehabilitation would be a good idea.

"If I were to be exercising, to be monitored through that process, so that I could have a little more reassurance," Bye said.

Instead of a 36 mile trip each way to the cardiac rehab center three times a week, Bye qualified to use 'Movn,' an app developed by a San Francisco company.

The app, along with a fitness tracker on his wrist. help him follow the rehab plan wherever he is. And director of the Rehab Center, Maryann Classick Wallace, says they can see everything on their end, too.

"So we can see how much they're exercising, what their heart rate is, what their weight is," Wallace said. "If they're not attaining their target heart rate, we're advising them to increase their activity."

Bye says it also keeps tabs on his medication.

The communication through the app is a two-way street - patients can ask questions or report concerns.

And those without a smart phone or tablet can borrow one, along with a blood pressure cuff, fitness tracker, and a scale for monitoring.

Wallace says about two-thirds of Lourdes cardiac rehab patients would qualify for the program.

She hopes it goes nationwide to boost participation.

"About 20% of eligible patients for cardiac rehab actually attend," Wallace said.

So the goal is to get more patients doing the therapy.

Earlier this week, Action News reported on a study that found many wrist-worn heart monitors may not be very accurate.

Lourdes says they check theirs against those in the lab for several sessions before a patient is allowed to use it on their own.

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