It’s unsettling to feel chest pain while you’re out for a walk. Susan Kaplan, 73, described it as a “vulnerable” feeling.

So when Adam Silver, MD, Endeavor Health cardiologist and medical director of Endeavor Health Cardiac Rehabilitation, asked whether she got enough exercise, Kaplan said she could use more. Considering her history of angina, she needed some support.

Dr. Silver enrolled Kaplan in Motiv, a new in-home virtual cardiac recovery program that allows patients to complete a personalized rehabilitation program that includes one-on-one exercise coaching and behavioral health support.

Endeavor Health Cardiovascular Institute launched the program in May 2023, which opened access to care for patients who were not able to participate in a traditional facility-based program.

During the initial rollout at Endeavor Health Highland Park Hospital, 96 percent of the patients who enrolled finished the six-month program. Of the patients with hypertension, 65 percent saw their blood pressure lowered to a healthy range.

This program has become a good part of my life,” Kaplan said. “I wasn’t feeling strong and now that I know I can walk and not get angina when I’m at my cardio heart rate, I feel stronger and less vulnerable. I know if I keep it going, I can still feel this way about myself.

The average patient in the Highland Park program increased their daily step count and those who opted into therapy saw a significant decrease in depressive symptoms — an often-overlooked yet vital element of cardiac recovery that the program addresses.

“There can be a tendency to underestimate how often patients who survive a cardiac event experience a confusing blend of emotions that range from gratitude and relief to fear and uncertainty of what the future holds. We have an opportunity to change that,” said Dr. Silver.

“I am excited to see this program focus on the human element of cardiac recovery as we aim to optimize the journey that patients take toward a higher quality of overall health and wellness.”

The Motiv program features:

  • A virtual cardiac recovery program that treats the whole person: heart, mind and body.
  • Weekly one-on-one virtual meetings with the patient’s dedicated health coach, a certified clinical exercise physiologist, to create their own personalized program that supports exercise, nutrition and wellness education.
  • Access to a Motiv therapist to support the patient’s behavioral health needs during their cardiac recovery, help them cope with their recent heart event and manage their stress.
  • A kit with a blood pressure device, activity tracker and exercise bands to support the patient’s exercise goals and track their progress.
  • Access to Motiv’s easy-to-use web app where the patient can:
    • Message their Motiv clinical team
    • Manage their virtual appointments
    • Access their exercise programs and health education
    • Keep track of their personal care plan goals
  • Regular updates of the patient’s progress relayed to their primary care physician and treating cardiologist(s).

“The personal coach was very nice. They’re not critical or judgmental,” Kaplan said. “They’re there to make suggestions and help you accomplish your goals. I liked meeting with my coach and looked forward to it.

“They were encouraging and motivating. They started at a slow pace so that I felt comfortable and encouraged me to continue a little bit at a time. It made me want to excel more, to compete with myself to do better than I thought I could.”

The program expanded to Endeavor Health Evanston Hospital and Endeavor Health Swedish Hospital in February 2024, and will be offered at the new Cardiovascular Institute at Endeavor Health Glenbrook Hospital when it opens in May 2024.

The opportunity will be offered to patients who have experienced a cardiac event and indicate potential benefit from participation in the post-discharge in-home virtual cardiac recovery program. After referral from their Endeavor Health cardiologist, patients will be contacted by Motiv to schedule their first session.

“Go for it. Try it. But go for it knowing you want to stick with it,” Kaplan said. “The hard part is starting. Once you’re in it and you are motivated, then you want to continue. You see how it helps you.”