For the second installment of Meet our Providers – we introduce another of our innovative health partners in the New Orleans area, Cardiac Rehab Services (CRS).

Cardiac Rehab Services is a program of prevention and lifestyle improvement designed to assist patients in positive health enhancement. The program provides medically directed exercise therapy and lifestyle modification assistance for individuals who have been diagnosed with or may be at risk for cardiovascular related diseases.

Brett Berry, program consultant and veteran Cardiac Rehab specialist, says his program offers reassurance to those suffering from cardiac issues. Earlier this month, we met Berry and his devoted staff at their New Orleans facility to learn more about the ins and outs of Cardiac Rehab Services.

As a secondary care provider, what does Cardiac Rehab Services offer its clients?

CRS Program Assistant, Reid, monitors patient's heart rate and blood pressure.

CRS staff monitor patient heart activity using wireless devices that transmit to a computer.

“We deliver individualized, prescribed and monitored exercise therapy with the goal of getting their heart and body in the best shape we can get it in,” says Berry, who opened the first Cardiac rehabilitation program in Orleans Parish.

As a “Secondary Prevention” program, patients are referred by a cardiologist or specialist to prevent their cardiac issues from getting worse or happening again. “Patients who come to us have a wide range of heart issues. Once a diagnosis is made and they’re taken care of, part of the patient’s recovery is CRS.”

Based out of a state of the art exercise facility on Xavier University’s campus,  CRS focuses bettering heart health by supervising exercise as well as offering education regarding nutrition and stress management. Cardiac Rehab Services is a family-run operation and unique provider to the New Orleans area. Berry says, “Last we calculated, I’ve supervised over half a million hours in a Cardiac Rehab setting and there’s no other provider in the US that can say the same right now.”

Patients range from short term referrals to long standing clients (some for over 17 years!), proving that, “The protocol we use works- people get better and they get in shape!”

What is a typical patient visit like? 

Patients use stationary bikes while their heart rate and blood pressure is monitored at CRS’s New Orleans location.

“Once somebody has a diagnosis, they’re typically referred for 36 visits. They’re sent [to CRS] and we start with three visits a week, 45 mins to 1 hour each visit, then maybe longer visits as they progress. We cross-train patients through different exercises because adaptations to the heart occur at the periphery, so we try to work as much of the periphery as we can,” says Berry. “We don’t just put patients on treadmills, we try to get them to do whole body exercise.”

CRS offers access to a range of services and exercise equipment, allowing each program to be tailored to the needs and preferences of every patient. During visits, patients are guided through exercise routines while connected to a wireless heart monitoring device, enabling staff to track heart rate and blood pressure levels during all activity on site. This ensures patient safety while also creating a valuable diagnostic assessment. “We provide the referring physician or specialist reports, either written and handed the patient, sent directly to doctor, or both. That way the doctor sees each patient’s progress.”

In addition to regular exercise sessions, CRS patients have access to consultations with a nutritionist, who leads periodic ‘field trips’ to Whole Foods, instructing patients on grocery shopping.

Musicians seem to suffer from chronic heart disease at a higher rate than others- any ideas why? 

“A lot of older musicians are probably going to have Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) and that’s blockages in the legs primarily caused from smoking,” says Berry. He also attributes ‘musician lifestyle’ (which typically involves high stress, smoking, substance abuse issues, unhealthy diet, etc) as a main risk factor for heart disease.

Berry insists that ‘New Orleans lifestyle’ (typical diet, amt. of alcohol consumption, etc) is a big factor. “We ran numbers years ago and…in the area between Claiborne and the [Mississippi] River, and from Canal St. over to the St.Bernard parish line (which includes 7th ward, 8th ward, 9th ward, French Quarter, etc.) is the largest prevalence of heart disease in the world. Not just musicians, but any person walking the street. If you factor in musician’s lifestyle AND if they’re living in that area, which many are, they’re at a much higher risk.”

Berry understands the unique and demanding lifestyle led by local musicians- his youngest son is an up-and-coming saxophone player in New Orleans.

Any advice for people reading this who might fear or have chronic heart disease? 

Moderation in regards to diet, exercise and managing stress levels to maintain a healthy heart. (Look here for Healthy Eating tips!)

“If you have symptoms of heart problems, go to a doctor right away. If severe, go to the ER right away. Don’t ever feel a pain, have it go away, and not think it was serious,” Berry warns.

He suggests, “It’s not always just chest pain, you can feel it in a lot of spots so it’s best to get checked right away.” He also advises seeking treatment immediately- the longer you wait, the more damaging it can be to the heart and therefore the more handicapped you can become. “Biggest thing is- Don’t play around with this stuff!

Business and contact information: 

CRS logo

New Orleans Location
(inside Xavier University Fitness Center)
929 S. Jeff Davis Pkwy.
New Orleans, LA 70125
(504) 861-9981

Morgan City Location
1025 Victor II Blvd, Suite L
Morgan City, LA 70380
(855) 344-0600

CRS is the second NOMC healthcare provider to be featured in the Meet Our Providers web series. Click here to read the first post on Pain Relief PT.