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Foreword I


If you are fortunate enough to survive a heart attack or have experienced a bypass operation, your life changes for better and worse. This is especially true if you also find you have diabetes. You have much to overcome and many concerns with which to struggle. You can become anxious and suddenly not be able to achieve all the things you had planned and anticipated. Some of us end up in such difficulty that we have trouble returning to a normal life.

Before we encountered cardiac rehabilitation, we had both experienced individual departments and clinics that functioned pretty well based on the usual standards. We had primarily received substantial medicine. But we did not feel at all healthy, neither physically nor mentally, when we began the comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation programme at Bispebjerg Hospital.

Getting together with other people in the same situation is clearly positive, and we were relieved immediately by being able to talk openly and honestly in unity that gave us strength. Nevertheless, what impressed us most deeply after only a few days in the 6-week intensive programme was that each of us was considered not only as people but as whole individuals. In this universe we did not have a heart there and a kidney there, a body and a soul disjointed. We actually had integrated thoughts, feelings and a body that needed to be used.

We had healthy and unhealthy habits, an inappropriate relationship with how we could and should use our bodies and especially an enormous need for more knowledge about ourselves and what was being done to and for us. Our need for motivation was key to our lives. There were mental problems and otherwise taboo sexual problems. Everything is connected, and the entire person was in focus!

Throughout the whole programme we felt that motivation was the keyword. Numerous counselling sessions and discussions, lectures and diverse activities allowed us to understand ourselves in a new and constructive way. We were actively involved the whole time, even to the extent that each patient, while consulting with the physician, could always view the monitor with the electronic record that registered the continually adapted medication and much more.

Finding a programme as well organized as this one requires an extensive search. In addition, all staff had a strongly optimistic and contagious commitment. This included the secretary, nurse, dietitian, physical therapist and physician.We are convinced that the spirit in the programme was reinforcing in the sense that the visible and positive results among the patients strengthened the enthusiasm of the cardiac rehabilitation team.

We are grateful and hope that others will continue the idea of this pioneering project in Denmark.

Peter Clemmensen
Carpenter, former trade union shop steward

Bjørn Andersen
Journalist and author

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© Cardiac Rehabilitation, Department of Cardiology Y, H:S Bispebjerg Hospital