Cardiac rehabilitation is an inexpensive treatment that saves lives. It helps heart patients get back on their feet, through exercise, education and support, and helps prevent further heart attacks. But it's available to less than half of those who need it. In 2007 the BHF led a UK-wide campaign for all heart patients to have access to a cardiac rehabilitation programme. BHF Scotland campaigned alongside Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland (CHSS) to empower patients to call for high-quality cardiac rehabilitation. The campaign focused on heart patients who are not getting this vital treatment, and emphasised the need for services for under-represented groups such as women and remote communities.
The campaign launch at the Scottish Parliament premiered an inspirational video featuring the Stirling Healthy Hearts Group talking about how cardiac rehabilitation has helped them. Group secretary Pat McKenna was a non-smoker and hill walker, with normal cholesterol and blood pressure, but, in 1999, she had a heart attack. "The first 12 weeks after my double bypass involved gentle exercise. Eventually, the rehab team encouraged me to take my recovery forward, getting back to walking in the hills. I'm now a mentor, taking folk like me on walks in the countryside. I'm going from strength to strength. But without cardiac rehab, I wouldn't be here."
The launch was supported by Roseanna Cunningham MSP, and Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, Nicola Sturgeon. Thirty-eight MSPs signed a motion and a petition had attracted 8,500 signatures by March 2008. Elsewhere in the UK, patients and professionals lobbied English MPs, resulting in over 20 parliamentary questions. In Wales, over a third of Assembly Members attended a campaign event, and £2 million has been ring-fenced for cardiac rehabilitation services.