Clinical depression affects up to one third of people who have been through a heart attack.

And that episode of depression becomes a new risk factor for recurrence: Those who become depressed after a heart attack have double the risk of another heart attack, or of dying from heart disease, than those who do not become depressed.

No one knows for sure why this is, but there are many possibilities. It may be a chemical reaction: depression triggers production of stress hormones that interfere with the heart’s natural function. Or it may be something more basic: a person suffering with depression has less ability than their non-depressed peer to follow medical advice.

Whatever the reason, what can you do to prevent depression from exacerbating the effects of a heart attack?

The Harvard Medical School recommends participating in a cardiac rehabilitation program. Cardiac rehabilitation is uniquely suited to addressing this debilitating consequence of heart disease. Cardiac rehab supports the implementation of therapeutic lifestyle changes, including adopting an appropriate exercise program. These changes, by themselves, can lift a patient’s spirits, helping them rebuild their emotional resources.

Cardiac rehab also includes mental health counseling, peer support groups, and instruction in stress management and relaxation techniques, all of which allow a heart attack patient to regain control of their health — and their life.

Cardiac rehab that takes place at a PACE program, like Beacon of LIFE, in Oceanport, NJ, goes even further. Because PACE programs provide ongoing counseling to their participants, longer follow-up is possible than in a short-term rehab program. And longer follow-up leads to better health.

Recovering from a heart attack is hard. Recovering from a heart attack and depression is even harder. Cardiac rehab, especially as offered by PACE programs like Beacon of LIFE can make all the difference.

Other services we provide include primary care, hospital care, medical specialty services, prescription drugs, nursing home care, emergency services, home care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, adult day care, recreational therapy, meals, dentistry, nutritional counseling, social services, laboratory / X-ray services, social work counseling, and transportation.

Our care and services allow people who would otherwise need to live in a nursing home to live where they want — in their own communities, in their own homes.

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