Our Heart Center facility is at the forefront of incorporating integrative, or complementary, therapies with the newest medical technology for cardiac care. The Integrative Cardiac Wellness Program uses holistic therapies to promote a patient’s innate healing ability. Holistic therapies are administered before and after cardiac surgery to promote a positive state of mind that contributes to health and well-being.
The Integrative Cardiac Wellness Program is led by two Certified Advanced Practice Holistic Nurses who are specially trained to care for cardiac patients using complementary medicine and therapies. Their goal is to empower patients to heal themselves by treating their integrated “whole” selves – mind, body and spirit.
Integrative Therapies Promote Healing By Positively Affecting Several Body Systems
Sympathetic nervous system activity, the so-called “flight or fight” reaction, is decreased. That allows the calming effects of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the rest and repair of the body, to take place.
The immune system is bolstered, as the brain sends signals along nerves to enhance the body's defenses and ability to combat infection.
The endocrine system, which governs hormones that influence stress, pain and anxiety, starts releasing endorphins, a body chemical that can improve moods and reduce pain sensation.
Breathing Meditation is used to promote healing and relaxation, enhance immunity and reduce vulnerability to illness. Focusing on the breath can help clear the mind of negative thoughts so patients can relax, live more fully in the present and better cope with stress and anxiety.
Reiki is a hands-on therapy that supports internal healing and promotes rest and relaxation. Translated from Japanese, Reiki (pronounced “ray-key”) means universal life force. Reiki directs the flow of Reiki energy to the patient and to the area where he/she needs it most.
Guided Imagery, which is used to help decrease a patient's anxiety and stress by using the imagination to promote physical changes that enhance the body's natural healing abilities. It also is used to help replace negative, self-defeating thoughts with positive, empowering ones, so patients regain a sense of control over their lives.
Reflexology, which is based on the traditional Eastern philosophy that qi (pronounced “chee”), or life energy, flows through the body along pathways called meridians. But sometimes that energy becomes blocked. The soles of the feet have reflexes, or pressure sensors, that correspond to different parts of the body. Pressure is applied to those reflex points to promote the flow of energy and to stimulate the release of toxins.
Pet Therapy is a holistic treatment supported by studies that show patients can benefit physically by being with animals. Pet therapy can lower blood pressure and reduce stress for cardiac patients. Several pet therapy dogs visit patients at their bedside on a regular basis.
Research Supports the Therapeutic Effects
Scientific evidence is mounting that complementary medicine, also known as alternative medicine, is effective. Random clinical trials have documented improved health outcomes when complementary medicine therapies are integrated into care.
There have been similar findings regarding the effectiveness of holistic medicine on cardiovascular care and cardiac surgery. Based on more than 200 studies, improved outcomes resulted when stress management and psychosocial interventions are included in treatment. Many studies have demonstrated that patients who use meditation and relaxation techniques see significant decline in blood pressure. Cardiac surgery patients can also reduce their pain through psychological support, affirmations, and stress-reduction training. In addition, many heart surgery patients have shorter hospital stays than those who only receive traditional medical care.
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