The hospital has graduated 600 patients from cardiac-related courses since 2009.

For most developing countries, the leading causes of death are malnutrition, pollution, trauma and infection. Costa Rica’s health situation, however, more closely relates to that of more developed countries, with cardiovascular disease ranking first for national mortality.

That’s why San Vicente de Paul Hospital in Heredia pioneered the Cardiac Prevention and Health Unlimited programs in 2009. According to Dr. Daniel Quesada, head of cardiology at the hospital, it’s both easier and cheaper to prevent a disease than to cure it once a patient is ill.

About the Cardiac Prevention Program

The Cardiac Prevention program runs as a semester course which is subsequently divided into three phases:

  • Phase 1: two hours of exercise three days a week; one 60-minute talk given by various specialists
  • Phase 2: exercise two days a week; two hours of conversation
  • Phase 3: pure exercise with special trainers

Patients qualify by having at least three risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as: obesity, hypertension, smoking, etc. Program coordinator Cecilia Arroyo states most patients who are involved, however, have about five of these factors.

Keep Moving with Health Unlimited

Like any health or fitness related program, the temptation to quit can be strong. Therefore, Jimmy Gonzalo, a cardiology nurse in Heredia, joined forces with social worker, doctors, pharmacists and agents of communications to launch the Health Unlimited program last year.

With Health Unlimited, patients partake in weekly dance classes taught by none other than Gonzalo himself. They also receive motivational counseling so as to improve their self-esteem and encourage completion of the Cardiac Prevention program.

Program Outreach

La Caja announced last July that they hoped to expand San Vicente de Paul’s programs to the surrounding ten cantons of the Heredia province.

In the words of Alfaro Murillo, institutional board member:

[quote_center]“We want to be a model province in preventing cardiovascular disease and promoting healthy lifestyles.”[/quote_center]

Murillo went on to say the program will continue opening to additional cantons throughout 2016.