In the 1975 film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," a villager (John Cleese) tries to find a place on the dead collector's (Eric Idle) wagon for the body of an old man, when the old guy proclaims, "But I'm not dead yet." That's the same happy declaration that tens of thousands of cardiac patients in the U.K. can make today.
That's because the U.K. leads the world in the number of folks who take advantage of cardiac rehabilitation programs. There, 50 percent of people who've had a cardiac event sign up for this life-saving therapy. In the U.S., only about 20 percent do.
The American Heart Association says that patients who enroll in cardiac rehab within six months of a heart attack dramatically reduce their risk of dying in the next year. If they enroll within six to 12 months, it'll reduce the chance of hospital readmission by 31 percent.
So why don't folks take advantage of cardiac rehab programs? Some blame the insurance industry, which doesn't always offer 100 percent coverage. Others blame their doctors. One study found that only 56 percent of heart patients were referred for cardiac therapy!
Cardiac rehab involves a team of specialists (a psychologist, doctor, nurse, exercise therapist and dietitian or nutritionist) who help you achieve a safe level of physical activity, adopt a heart-healthy diet and stick to your medication regimen.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.
(c) 2017 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.