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Life After Heart Surgery

By Erin Gulden, Editor
9/11/2012 11:55:43 AM

Heart disease is responsible for nearly a quarter of all deaths in America. Earlier this year, "American Bandstand" host Dick Clark and Davy Jones of "The Monkees" died of heart attacks.

But there are plenty of celebrities who have survived heart scares. They're demonstrating how to live full, busy lives, even after heart surgery.

Celebrities who have had surgery for certain valvular disorders include:

-Comedian Robin Williams
-Talk show host Barbara Walters
-Legal commentator Star Jones
-TV news magazine host Charlie Rose

Celebrities who have had bypass surgery include:

-Former President Bill Clinton
-Former talk show host Larry King
-Late-night talk show host David Letterman

Post-surgery rehab

People who have had a variety of heart events may end up in cardiac rehabilitation. Those include heart attack, coronary bypass, valve repair or replacement or other heart procedures, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Your cardiac rehab team may include a family doctor, heart specialist, surgeon, nurses, exercise specialists, physical and occupational therapists, dietitians and mental health specialists, according to the NHLBI. You may also have a case manager.

According to the American Heart Association, a supervised cardiac rehab program can:

-Introduce regular physical activity. This helps with the physical recovery for the patient. It can also "improve energy levels and lift spirits," and reduce the chance of future heart problems.
-Help put you on the right path. If you want to avoid a second heart event, most cardiac patients must make changes. Those include following a heart-healthy diet, lowering blood pressure, stress or cholesterol levels, losing weight or quitting smoking. Program supervisors can help you communicate effectively with your cardiac care team.

What you do in rehab depends on your situation. If you've had major heart surgery, you may start by sitting in a chair or taking a few steps. Then you'll work on range-of-motion exercises.

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