8 Things to Know About Cardiac Rehabilitation

  • portrait of smiling African American senior man wearing red sweatshirt with partner in background
    Strengthening Your Heart
    After an angioplasty or other heart procedure, your doctor may recommend cardiac rehabilitation. The goal of cardiac rehab is to improve your overall health and well being and decrease your risk for future heart problems. Here’s what you can expect during cardiac rehab and beyond.

  • team of doctors and nurses in circle reviewing medical chart
    1. You’ll Work With a Team
    A cardiac rehab team has several major players. These include doctors such as your primary care physician, a heart specialist, and a surgeon. You may also work with nurses, exercise specialists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, dietitians, and psychologists.

  • smiling senior Caucasian woman on beach wearing hat and gloves sitting on bicycle
    2. It’s All About You
    Each person’s experience with cardiac rehabilitation is different. That’s because the activities you do during cardiac rehab depend on your health, medical history, and condition. If you’re recovering from heart surgery, the physical activity in your program will start slow and increase with time.

  • confident smiling Caucasian senior man with towel around neck giving high five in exercise room
    3. Exercise Is a Key Component
    Physical activity strengthens your heart, reduces your risk for heart disease, and improves your strength and endurance. Your team will help you develop a plan that may include aerobic exercise, muscle-strengthening activities, and flexibility exercises. Your exercise program will change with time as you get stronger.

  • senior-couple-eating-healthy-meal
    4. You’ll Learn to Eat Better
    Nutrition is also an important part of cardiac rehab. Your rehab team will teach you about following a heart-healthy diet. You’ll learn how to plan meals that contain the amount of calories you need and are low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium.

  • Blood pressure gauge in Doctors surgery
    5. You’ll Target Any Risk Factors
    Even after an angioplasty, you may have certain health issues that put you at risk for future heart problems. These risks include high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, excess weight, and diabetes. You and your team will address these issues with lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise along with medication, if needed.

  • Depressed man
    6. Emotional Health Matters, Too
    Psychological factors such as depression and anxiety can increase your risk for heart disease. They’re also common in people who have had a heart attack or heart surgery. Treating these issues can help lower your risk for future health problems. A mental health specialist may be part of your rehab team, or you can ask someone from your team to refer you to one.

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    7. Your Family’s Support Makes a Difference
    A big part of cardiac rehab is making lasting lifestyle changes. Your family’s support can make it easier to incorporate these changes into your daily life. Your loved ones can help you plan and cook healthy meals. They can keep you company during exercise. The changes you’re making can benefit everyone.

  • Senior Caucasian man eating at picnic with friends and smiling
    8. Cardiac Rehab Is Just the Beginning
    You may work with your rehab team for three months or longer. However, the changes you learn to make during cardiac rehab don’t end when your program does. With time, they’ll become part of your everyday routine, helping you keep your heart healthy for many years to come.

8 Things to Know About Cardiac Rehabilitation

About The Author

  1. What Is Cardiac Rehabilitation? National Institutes of Health. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/rehab
  2. What To Expect During Cardiac Rehabilitation. National Institutes of Health. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/rehab/during
  3. What To Expect When Starting Cardiac Rehabilitation. National Institutes of Health. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/rehab/start
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Last Review Date: 2018 Jun 10
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