The statistics are harrowing: 30 per cent of all deaths in New Zealand, according to Massey University research, are caused by cardiovascular diseases, including heart, stroke and blood disease.

And one in every 20 people in New Zealand is living with heart disease, according to Heart Foundation statistics.

For those battling a cardiac illness, DHBs do offer basic cardiac rehabilitation but a new clinic in Auckland, the ExerScience Clinic, has been established to offer an in-depth programme where at risk people are heavily monitored as they exercise and progress back to health.

Clinic manager Eleanor Nattrass notes that research shows cardiac rehabilitation can reduce premature death by up to 50 per cent and says "traditionally we're talking about a lot of heart disease, a lot of cardiac rehab patients not getting enough care for their conditions.


"There are very few clinics in New Zealand where patients can get the help they need to recover from traumatic life events," she says, adding there is a gap in the system between
people with chronic disease and injury becoming well and independent again.

Clinic manager Eleanor Nattrass.
Clinic manager Eleanor Nattrass.

Nattrass says the intention of the new facility is to provide rehabilitation programmes where exercise is closely monitored before, during and after a patient's workout.

"[S]omeone will get checked in for their blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen levels ... making sure they're in a safe position to exercise. For someone who might be at high risk of heart disease or have had heart disease recently, that's quite a safe factor for them.

"By providing an environment in which they can safely undergo a rehabilitation programme, where exercise is supervised and monitored according to global best practice standards, we have a real chance of reducing hospital readmission following a heart attack by up to 31 per cent."

Beyond exercise for heart disease patients, exercise rehabilitation is also available for cancer survivors and those going through treatment, muscular skeletal conditions, pre- and post-surgeries, low back pain and other "common conditions that restrict people from living a good quality of life."

The exercise programmes are bolstered by nutritional management and psychosocial behaviours.

Nattrass says those who have been through the programmes so far have seen huge improvements in their strength and fitness.

"Overall, those are things that really allow them to get back to their normal life, faster."