According to the ERASMUS+ SPORT programme, “SWEATY HEARTS” project will promote voluntary activities in sport, together with social inclusion and awareness of the importance of health-enhancing physical activity through increased participation in, and equal access to, sport for all in particular for cardiac patients.
Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is the single most common cause of death in Europe: accounting for 1.7 million deaths in Europe each year. However, the huge development and resulting investment in high-technology diagnostic and therapeutic procedures in recent decades ensures increased survival. As a consequence, a greater number of men and women now survive acute events but inherit heavier burden of chronic conditions and clinical need, this constituting a larger pool of patients eligible to benefit from cardiac rehabilitation (CR). CR can be divided in different phases. The last phase, the maintenance of an healthy lifestyle, is considered as a life-long responsibility of every patient but CR programs are frequently unavailable and underutilized resources. So, effective and practical interventions to encourage individuals to remain active in last phase are needed: the intervention that could be incorporated into existing cardiac rehabilitation services should be the involvement, in a multidisciplinary staff, of HCPs and personnel able to prescribe physical activity, with communication skills and expertise in behaviour changes.
Considering this situation, the project objectives are: to design programs where patients, organized in groups, follow active sessions of physical activity and educational sessions about healthy lifestyles; to organize training of personnel involved in the integrated approach sessions (physicians, psychologists, nurses, physiotherapists, trainers, etc.) and make them able to prescribe physical activity, with communication skills and expertise in behavior changes; to organize dedicated events to disseminate the project.
Project activities will be:
Integrated approach sessions
All patients finishing their traditional rehabilitation path in cardiac rehabilitation centres receive prescriptions to do physical activity but they do not know what to do, where to goin this phase of the project they will receive such information.
Coronary artery disease patients, both sexes, no limit of age, certified with no medical contraindications for mild-moderate physical activity, or according to the usual practice in the country, with BMI ≤35 will train for 24 weeks, minimum twice a week, for 60-90 minutes.
The training sessions will consist of aerobic, resistance and flexibility exercises.
Moreover during the integrated approach sessions, participants receive information about the importance of healthy behaviours, about how and why they have to continue to do physical activity on a regular basis, which are the physical limits, the risk of drop out, the importance of practice physical activity in group with other subjects, the importance to choose an activity liked by the person.
Independent phase setup
According to the idea of SWEATY HEARTS project, the patients will be gradually accompanied across last phase, from the assisted, monitored sessions to the independent, long term activities. The switch is a very delicate point of the program and the centers should be prepared offering to the subjects different opportunities to perform physical activity. In addition patients will be provided with podcasts and other tools to improve motivation and adherence to replicate the physical activity on their own.
The participants will be provided with different proposals, the opportunities to create groups of activity, and the tools to provide ongoing feedback.
In each country a meeting at the rehabilitation center will be organized. The meeting will represent the opportunity to be in contact with Heart Groups and patients’ groups doing regular physical activities and other associations/facilities at local level organising physical activites.
Independent phase monitoring
Subjects participating to the integrated approach phase will go through the independent phase. The key point for cardiac rehabilitation is the long term adherence that is in patients’ hands. Organized in groups they will perform one of the physical activity program proposed with the support of the tools developed in the phases ahead. All participants will have the opportunity to provide and receive ongoing feedback to the centers and to document program outcomes via electronic devices. All participants will receive monthly follow-ups to monitor if they have continued the physical activity sessions as recommended, and in case of drop-outs the causes will be discussed.