Cardiac rehabilitation can’t change your past, but it can help you improve your heart’s future.
Cardiac rehab is a medically supervised program for people who have had a heart attack, heart failure, heart surgery, or other coronary intervention.
A cardiac rehab program involves adopting heart-healthy lifestyle changes to address risk factors for cardiovascular disease. It is a team effort—partnering you with doctors, nurses, pharmacists, family members and friends—to take charge of the choices, lifestyle and habits that affect your heart.
To help you adopt lifestyle changes, a cardiac rehab program will include exercise training, education on heart-healthy living, and counseling to reduce stress and help you return to an active life. It can improve your health and quality of life, reduce the need for medicines to treat heart or chest pain, decrease the chance you will go back to a hospital or emergency room for a heart problem, prevent future heart problems, and even help you live longer.
The American Heart Association explains cardiac rehab as three equally important parts:
- Exercise counseling and training: Exercise gets your heart pumping and your entire cardiovascular system working. You’ll learn how to get your body moving in ways that promote heart health.
- Education for heart-healthy living: Managing your risk factors, choosing good nutrition, quitting smoking…education about heart-healthy living is a key element of cardiac rehab.
- Counseling to reduce stress: Stress hurts your heart. This part of rehab helps you identify and tackle everyday sources of stress.
Cardiac rehab is provided in an outpatient clinic or in a hospital rehab center. The cardiac rehab team includes doctors, nurses, exercise specialists, physical and occupational therapists, dietitians or nutritionists, and mental health specialists. Sometimes a case manager will help track your care.
Your cardiac rehab team will design a program to meet your needs. Before starting your program, the rehab team will take your medical history, do a physical exam, and perform tests. Possible tests include an electrocardiogram (EKG), cardiac imaging tests, and a treadmill or stationary bike exercise test. You also may have tests to measure your cholesterol and blood sugar levels. During cardiac rehab, you will learn to exercise safely and increase your physical activity. The length of time that you spend in cardiac rehab depends on your condition.
For more information about the cardiac rehabilitation program at Mercy Health System, visit our website at www.mercyhealth.org/heart/rehab.
Sources: American Heart Association, National Institutes of Health
Before you go … Check out Mercy Health System’s 2017 Go Red Dance Video to support American Heart Month!