Heart Month lecture highlights decades of change in cardiac care

Much has changed since the early conception of cardiac rehabilitation back in the 1940s and ‘50s, according to Edward Goldenberg, M.D., FACC, director of Preventive Cardiology.

As part of heart month in February, Dr. Goldenberg and Janice Anderson, RN, manager of Cardiac Rehabilitation and Secondary Prevention, offered a free lecture at the John H. Ammon Medical Education Center, moderated by Timothy Gardner, M.D., medical director of Christiana Care’s Center for Heart & Vascular Health.

Dr. Goldenberg recalled a conversation with one of his fellows who asked how heart attacks were treated in the 1940s and ‘50s. So he looked it up in an old cardiac textbook.

“They actually recommended to continue to smoke because it relaxed you, and to have one alcoholic beverage a day for the stress,” he said. “Over the decades we’ve learned a lot.”

The treatment of cardiac patients has evolved greatly since Dr. Goldenberg began practicing in 1978.

“When you had a heart attack, you were kept in the hospital for about four weeks. You weren’t allowed to get out of bed, weren’t allowed to go to the bathroom. They thought the most important part of rehab was rest and relaxation,” he said. Now, the goal is to get the patient moving as soon as possible, Anderson said. Lying in bed can lead to muscle atrophy, blood clots and pneumonia.