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NPR piece on Clinton and cardiac rehabilitation includes nurse expert commentary

September 10, 2004 -- Today NPR aired a good piece by Patricia Neighmond about the type of cardiac rehabilitation former President Bill Clinton is likely to undergo following his recent quadruple bypass surgery. The report includes significant expert comment from UCLA cardiac rehab nurse Veronica Polverari, and generally treats nursing with an unusual level of respect.

The piece explains that serious changes in exercise, diet and medication are commonly indicated following the kind of cardiac surgery that President Clinton underwent. Neighmond uses the experience of one UCLA patient who, like the former President, had quadruple bypass surgery, to illustrate a typical rehab regimen. Much of the piece consists of audio quotes from this patient, who began his therapy about a month after surgery; eight months later, his health indicators are reportedly good. Neighmond notes that this patient, like many, "thanks the doctors and nurses in the rehab unit for that, nurses like Veronica Polverari."

The report also includes multiple audio quotes from Polverari. She describes concerns post-surgical patients often have about what activities their bodies can handle, explains that specific conditioning is required for people to go back to certain activities, argues for moderation in diet changes, and stresses that patients must realize that the surgery was not a mechanical fix. Instead, major lifestyle changes are required to lessen the chances of future problems, a key point reinforced by a shorter following quote by a UCLA cardiologist. Polverari's practical, straightforward comments are aimed at teaching patients how to remake their daily lives. They make an interesting contrast to those of the physician, who uses a more abstract approach, complex sentence structures, and untranslated technical language to make essentially the same point. The report includes substantially more comment from Polverari than from the cardiologist.

We thank Veronica Polverari for doing a great job explaining cardiac rehab to the public from a nursing perspective, and to Patricia Neighmond for highlighting the expertise of nurses and bringing their patient education focus to the forefront.

Listen to Patricia Neighmond's report "Cardiac Rehab Key to Post-Surgery Success" on NPR.

Send your comments to Patricia Neighmond by clicking here.


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