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Heart Rehab Programs May Help Some Stroke Patients

Structured Rehab After Stroke May Save Lives, Researchers Say

Insurance Coverage May Be Barrier continued...

She thinks cardiac rehab is a great fit for people who have had mini- or mild strokes.

“If these patients are discharged and go on their merry way, they would not be monitored and could end up getting worse,” she says.

“The infrastructure is already there, so we would be able to implement a program immediately,” Tracy says.

Insurance coverage may be a barrier. There are only certain events that are covered, and “right now, these strokes are not considered qualifying diagnoses,” she says.

Roger Bonomo, MD, director of stroke care at New York City's Lenox Hill Hospital, says many of the features of cardiac rehab would benefit people who have had mini or mild strokes.

But “you don't go to cardiac rehab because of a TIA,” he says. “We try to do the same kind of education in the short time that we have them in the hospital.”

It’s close to impossible to encourage successful and long-term smoking cessation during this time frame, Bonomo says. “The best of all possible worlds would be to have follow-up care that includes the same kind of program that is completed in cardiac rehab, namely education about diet, exercise, and adherence to [cholesterol-lowering] medications and smoking cessation.”

David Langer, MD, director of cerebrovascular research at the Cushing Neuroscience Institute of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System in Manhasset, says that this type of program could absolutely benefit people who have had mini or mild strokes, not to mention those who have risk factors for these conditions.

“Ideally this program could help people even before they have a stroke, including people who smoke, have high cholesterol or high blood pressure, or other risk factors,” he says, but the issue is that insurers don’t pay for these services.

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