Improving Outcomes after a Heart Attack

There’s life before your heart attack, and then there’s life after. Those first days and weeks as you start “life after” can be difficult physically, mentally and emotionally. That’s one reason the earlier you start going to cardiac rehab, the faster you recover.

“Having a heart attack changes everything. For a lot of people, it’s a wake-up call to make some significant changes in their lives—not to mention the physical and mental stress a heart attack causes,” said Paula Harwood, manager, Memorial Cardiopulmonary Rehab and Heart Failure. “Cardiac rehab can provide support and help to gain strength in all aspects of your recovery.”

Cardiac rehabilitation is prescribed by a physician, usually in phases, depending on the needs of the patient. Research showed, overall, patients were waiting up to a few weeks before starting cardiac rehab—if they started at all. That delay resulted in a higher number of quick readmissions to the hospital.

Improving Quality
In response, a Memorial team launched the “See You in 7” quality initiative, inspired by recommendations from the American College of Cardiology, to get patients to cardiac rehab—and on the road to recovery—faster. The goal is to get patients to their first cardiac rehab appointment within seven days of leaving the hospital.

“We found there were some common reasons that our patients weren’t getting to cardiac rehab as fast as we would like,” Harwood said. “Working together with physicians, cardiac rehab staff and our cardiac unit at Memorial, in many cases we could help patients make and keep the initial appointment with cardiac rehab.”

Outstanding Results
Thanks to the continued success of “See You in 7,” heart attack patients are healing faster and avoiding unnecessary readmission to the hospital.


  • 71% improvement in the average time until the first cardiac rehab appoint: 18.5 days down to five days
  • 62% increase in the number of patients who attended their first outpatient cardiac rehab appointment within seven days
  • 67% reduction in heart attack patients readmitted within 30 days

Stories of Success
Learn more about cardiac rehab from a patient perspective: