February is Healthy Heart Month — Take Heart!

WhidbeyHealth Medical Center was chosen as one of 50 hospitals in the nation to offer the new TAKEheart intiative. It’s a highly-coveted spot and hospitals are being rewarded for providing care that improves outcomes and lowers costs for cardiac rehab patients.

You may have heard that sitting is now “the new smoking.”

We all know now how important exercise is to a healthy lifestyle and this is even more evident in those who may have experienced tough times with their heart, including heart surgery, a heart attack or chronic heart failure. The bottom line is that cardiac rehab saves lives and those in the know want to increase its participation by 70 percent or more. WhidbeyHealth is taking the lead on that idea.

WhidbeyHealth Medical Center has been chosen as one of only 50 hospitals in the nation to take part in the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) TAKEheart initiative. It’s a highly-coveted spot and hospitals are being rewarded for providing care that improves outcomes and lowers costs for cardiac rehab patients.Under the medical directorship of Dr. Zina Hajduczok, TAKEheart at WhidbeyHealth is poised to bring better patient outcomes than ever before, along with its state-of-the-art rehab equipment, information technology and a staff with proven clinical experience.

“Referral to cardiac rehabilitation is the number one recommendation for patients following heart surgery, myocardial infarction, or coronary intervention, and for stable angina or heart failure,” says Dr. Hajduczok.

“I am very excited that WhidbeyHealth was chosen to participate in the TAKEheart program. It’s a coup for us and it will open doors to more recovery and prevention of cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases for our Whidbey Island patients,” she says.

Cardiac rehabilitation is a key component of high value, coordinated care for cardiac patients. Patients who participate in cardiac rehabilitation attain:

  • 20% reduction in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality
  • 28% lower risk for hospital admission
  • 25% lower rate of readmission
  • Improved quality of life.

Dr. Hajduczok has been medical director of the cardiac and pulmonary rehab program at WhidbeyHealth’s "Life Center" since Jan. 2018. She is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Cardiology and is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology. Dr. Hajduczok ran a private cardiology practice for 18 years before moving to Whidbey Island, so it’s evident that she has the experience and know-how to drive this program for the best patient care.

“It is estimated that only one in five eligible patients are routinely referred by their care providers for cardiac rehab,” says Dr. Hajduczok. “It also has been estimated that if patient participation in cardiac rehabilitation programs was increased to 70 percent, it could save approximately 25,000 lives and prevent 180,000 hospital admissions a year,” she added.

A Cardiac-Pulmonary Rehab patient at WhidbeyHealth, who has severe Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and was scared when she started Cardiac-Pulmonary Rehab.

The patient can now breath 90 percent better while walking, has gained overall strength throughout her body, and has even established a home exercise routine, which was out of the question pre-rehab. With the gain in muscle mass and stamina, her heart can carry more oxygen, which results in less shortness of breath. She has also learned breathing techniques that have also helped enormously.

“My life is so much better,” she says. “I feel like I have my life back now.”

These are the kind of patient outcomes that Dr. Hajduczok and her team long to see.

 “I’m thrilled to have won a spot in the TAKEheart initiative. We can really make a
difference here,” Dr. Hajduczok said.