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Fedhealth pilots cardiac rehabilitation programme

19 August 2009 Fedhealth
Dr Natie Finkelstein, Chairman of Fedhealth?s Managed Healthcare Committee

Dr Natie Finkelstein, Chairman of Fedhealth?s Managed Healthcare Committee

Clinical results from an innovative cardiac-rehabilitation programme, funded by Fedhealth from the scheme’s risk benefit and developed in conjunction with Professor Wayne Derman and Professor Martin Schwellnus, are already starting to show some positive outcomes.

The programme is offered at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa in Cape Town and is available to Fedhealth members and their dependants diagnosed with coronary heart disease or stable heart failure and who require rehabilitation. According to Dr Natie Finkelstein, Chairman of Fedhealth’s Managed Healthcare Committee, there are very specific indicators for cardiac rehabilitation and Fedhealth proactively identifies people who meet certain specified criteria by analysing its hospital authorisations.

The criteria for entry into the programme are that the patient must have recently undergone a bypass graft, angioplasty, uncomplicated myocardial infarction or recently been diagnosed with chronic stable angina. Patients who meet these criteria will be contacted and provided with the relevant information.

The programme essentially aims to modify risk factors through a holistic approach that includes regular exercise, dietary intervention, stress management and education. It is designed over a three-month period or 36 sessions and the patient is required to attend at least three sessions per week. A 12-week heart disease educational programme is also included and results are forwarded to the patient’s general practitioner or specialist.

The most recent clinical results from the programme show significant improvements; particularly, the reduction in total cholesterol levels, body fat and blood pressure (both systolic and diastolic) amongst participants. Although the reduction in BMI was not significant, there was some decrease in waist circumference.

“We are very encouraged by these initial results and believe that Fedhealth will increasingly see the long-term benefits,” says Finkelstein. He nevertheless expressed some disappointment that only some 8,2% of those identified are currently enrolled in the programme. One member expressed his satisfaction with the programme by declaring: “it is the best thing that has been done for cardiac patients”.

The full cost of the programme, which is managed by Medscheme Health Risk Solutions, is covered by Fedhealth’s risk benefit. On enrolment, beneficiaries are required to make a 15% co-payment that is redeemable on successful completion of the programme.

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