History of Cardiac Rehab
The Basingstoke & Alton Rehabilitation Unit opened in 1976 with just a few cardiac patients, utilising facilities in Alton Sports Centre. A team led by local GP Dr Hugh Bethell and physiotherapist Sally Turner supervised and monitored the performance of patients on a course of graduated exercise. Early results were encouraging and medical practices in surrounding areas started to refer patients to "Cardiac Rehab".
Cardiac Rehab's reputation soon spread and within two years the major hospital in the area (Basingstoke) began regularly to refer cardiac patients. As the team learned from studying results, adjustments were made to the course of tailored exercise and it was combined with education about heart disease, diet, stress management and relaxation.
Ever since its opening, Cardiac Rehab has been a leader in its field. It was the first community-based cardiac rehabilitation unit in the UK and its example has been followed widely. Members of the Cardiac Rehab team helped to increase the provision of units across the country, and with the setting up of the British Association of cardiac Rehabilitation.
In 1992 the Basingstoke & Alton Cardiac Rehabilitation Charity was formed, with the express intention to build a facility that would be an improvement on that which was available at the Sports Centre. Following several years of local fundraising the current Centre was built in 1997. The move to its own building enabled Cardiac Rehab to expand its operations, including starting its own Phase IV cardiac rehabilitation exercise programme for those who "graduate" from the NHS-run Phase III programme. The charity now runs over 40 hours per week of Phase IV exercise, making it one of the largest providers of its kind in the South of England.
The charity was re-branded as Cardiac Rehab in 2003 to avoid confusion with other forms of rehabilitation work, such as for stroke or drug abuse.
In the year ending 31st March 2008 the Charity's objectives were extended to include those "at risk of heart or coronary illness" and in 2009 the Staywell Scheme was introduced. This scheme provides exercise and education for those who have not yet developed heart disease, but who are considered at high risk of doing so. It is part of the East Hampshire District Council's Exercise Referral Scheme in which patients are referred by local GPs.