• What is cardiac rehabilitation?

Cardiac rehabilitation (cardiac rehab) is a professionally supervised program to help people recover from heart attacks, heart surgery and percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) procedures such as stenting and angioplasty. Cardiac rehab programs usually provide education and counseling services to help heart patients increase physical fitness, reduce cardiac symptoms, improve health and reduce the risk of future heart problems, including heart attack.

Many people of all ages who have heart conditions can benefit from a cardiac rehab program. You may benefit if you have or have had a:

      • Heart attack
      • Heart condition, such as coronary artery disease (CAD), angina or heart failure
      • Heart procedure or surgery, including coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery, percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), including coronary angioplasty (balloon angioplasty) and stenting, valve replacement, or a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator(ICD)


    1. What kinds of services do programs offer?


Programs often include :

      • A medical evaluation to figure out your cardiac needs and limitations. The medical staff uses this information to tailor a rehabilitation program for you and help you set goals.
      • A physical activity program tailored to your needs. Training often starts in a group setting where your heart rate and blood pressure are monitored during physical activity. You may work with a physical therapist, under supervision of cardiologist . You learn how to check your heart rate and your level (intensity) of activity. Later, you work up to more intense aerobic activity on a treadmill or exercise bike.
      • Personally supervised exercise program
      • Stress management program
      • Counseling and education to help you understand your condition and how to manage it. You work with a dietitian to create a healthy eating plan. If you smoke, you get counseling on how to stop. Counseling may also help you cope with depression, anger and stress during your recovery.
      • Support and training to help you return to work or your normal activities and to help you learn to manage your heart condition.
      • Education of family members to understand the individuals medical condition to cope with
      • Assistance in developing a safe home exercise program
      • Encouragement and support from the staff and other patients – we’ll treat you like family!


    1. How long do people attend cardiac rehabilitation programs?

Your rehabilitation plan is designed to meet your needs. You may need six weeks, six months or longer to learn how to manage your condition and develop healthier habits. Many programs last only three months to 1 year.


    1. What are the benefits of attending a supervised cardiac rehabilitation program?


      • Age predicted target heart rate can be set for individuals.
      • ECG and telemetry monitoring is vital to detect ECG disturbances (extra beats, rhythm problems etc during exercise)
      • Regular physical activity helps your heart and the rest of your body get stronger and work better. Physical activity improves your energy levels .It also reduces your chances of future heart problems including heart attacks.
      • Counseling and education help you to quit smoking, eat right, lose weight , lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, manage stress and feel better about your health. Also helps to understand and manage the disease process.
      • You also have the advice and close supervision of health care professionals to help you improve your health and lower the risk of future problems
      • Providing vocational guidance to enable the individual to return to work.
      • Supplying information on physical activity
      • Counseling on appropriate use of prescribed medicines
      • The long term success of any secondary prevention program is directly related to patient compliance. Evidence suggests that patients benefit from improving lipid profile by diet , exercise and drug therapy.
      • Those who quit smoking significantly reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke as well as sudden death compared with those who continue to smoke.




Most cardiac rehabilitation units have an established program of cardiac rehabilitation stages through which they put their patients. Typically, these stages are:

Stage One – In the Hospital
In the first stage of cardiac rehabilitation, patients are in the hospital. This occurs right after the patient has been diagnosed with heart disease. This stage ends when the patient is discharged from the hospital.

Stage Two – After Leaving the Hospital (Most important phase)
In the second stage, the patient is considered an outpatient. He is at home, and comes to the clinic a few times a week to participate in treatment. This involves exercise that is monitored by cardiac rehabilitation specialists. The heart is monitored while exercising with an ECG monitor. This stage is used for patients recovering from heart diseases and surgeries. Lasts from 3months to 1 year or longer , if required.

Stage Three – Lifestyle Changes
Stage three is a maintenance stage. This involves a long-term exercise program at a gym or at home. It is less monitored, but does involve some measure of education and accountability. Patients in Stage Three are still given cardiac rehabilitation guidelines, to help them to properly recover from their disease. functional capacity and quality of life, reduces risk factors and may create a sense of well-being and optimism about the future.


    1. Exercise Training in Cardiac Rehab

Cardiac rehabilitation guidelines always include exercise training. Because the diseased heart cannot handle high levels of exercise all at once, the exercise training program starts slow and builds toward an appropriate level of activity. For extremely sick patients, exercise starts with simply sitting up and getting out of bed. Once this becomes easy, they progress to walking short distances around the room. The walking distance is gradually lengthened. As the patient gains even more strength, long distance walks turn into jogs and runs. Then, strength training is introduced.

During all of this exercise training, the heart is carefully monitored, to ensure that the patient is not having any heart trouble. If necessary, the exercise is taken down a notch to allow the heart to recover. As long as the heart is functioning normally, the exercise level is increased until the patient can go to a gym to exercise without the supervision of the doctors and nurses.

Knowing what to expect in the different cardiac rehabilitation phases is the first step to heart health. If you have heart disease, sign up with the cardiac rehabilitation unit at your hospital. Your life may depend on it!

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