The two leading causes of death in the U.S. are cancer and heart disease. Health experts say the two can often link together.
If patients have suffered a heart attack, undergone heart surgery, or have recently been diagnosed with heart disease, their cardiologist may send them to cardiac rehabilitation.
“Cardiac rehab is a comprehensive program that sees patients that have heart disease and they may have a diagnosis of stable angina, they may have stents, they may have had bypass surgery,” said Marion Harris-Barter, a cardiac rehabilitation supervisor with Lee Health.
The rehab is a medically supervised program designed to improve cardiovascular health through exercise, education, and stress management. “We started to see that a lot of our patients, our cardiac patients, also have a cancer diagnosis as well,” said Harris-Barter.
Doctors have found a link between heart disease and cancer, causing many cancer patients to need cardiac rehabilitation. Instead of sending the patient to two different locations for cancer therapy and cardiac therapy, they decided to combine the therapies together and create a cardio-oncology rehab.
“In the past years, cancer survivors are living longer and longer and more research has shown that there’s a duel diagnosis with most cancer patients. There’s some form of cardiovascular disease on top of the new challenges from cancer treatment,” said Denise Pfeiffer, an oncology rehab navigator with Lee Health.
Cardio-oncology patients undergo a cardiac evaluation and an assessment with their oncologist. “The feedback is really good because they like that they are able to have several different needs met,” said Pfeiffer.
The collaboration allows experts to monitor both conditions in one session. “It definitely facilitates a more efficient and effective means of treating patients which improves their satisfaction,” said Harris-Barter.
Patients enrolled in the cardio-oncology rehabilitation have regular visits to monitor the status of their heart and cancer diagnosis.
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Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health - Caring People. Inspiring Care.