How the cardiac rehabilitation nurse can help you

The cardiac rehabilitation nurse with a patient

Learn how nurses can help people going through cardiac rehabilitation, plus other roles you might meet.

Julie Atton is a cardiac rehabilitation nurse at University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust.

Like every member of the cardiac rehab team, Julie gives advice on lifestyle changes, but she also answers more detailed questions about medications. “We work a lot on individual goals,” she says.

“It could be stopping smoking, dietary change or something as simple as eating one extra portion of fruit and veg each day. The overall goal is keeping each patient fit and well and preventing further hospital admissions.”

Julie also runs a group session on dealing with stress and anxiety. “We explain the link between physical health and stress and anxiety, and how people can recognise the signs,” she says. “We give tips on relaxation and use BHF resources, such as the Coping with stress booklet.”

Directing people to psychological support is an important part of the team’s work. “There’s a lot of evidence to show that people can suffer from anxiety and depression following a heart event,” explains Julie.

“We use a questionnaire and we have pathways for what to do next. This includes GPs, mental health services and local charities, and a telephone helpline we encourage people to use.”

Other members of the team

Andre Taylor, a cardiac rehab practitioner Depending on where you do cardiac rehab, you may encounter other roles: occupational therapists, dietitians, psychologists or cardiac rehab practitioners.

Sam Jones and Andre Taylor (pictured) are cardiac rehab practitioners at the University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust. They support the team and connect patients to services such as occupational therapy or stop smoking services.

“Sometimes, patients are terrified of the word ‘rehab’,” says Sam. “When they see what we offer, that changes. Eight weeks later, they are like completely different people.

“People have perceptions of what heart disease is, sometimes from the media, that are wrong. They might think a heart attack means you are going to drop down dead. We can tackle that. I never come to work with a frown on my face.” 

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