Suffering from a heart attack or having heart surgery can take an emotional and physical toll on an individual’s body. People recovering from heart attacks or heart surgery and those with congenital heart disease, heart failure, chronic chest pain, and related conditions can benefit from cardiac rehabilitation.

Benefits of Cardiac Rehabilitation

Cardiac rehab helps individuals make lifestyle changes that enable them to become physically and emotionally healthy. In some instances, individuals who adopt the healthy practices they learn during a cardiac rehab program can reduce their risk of heart problems later. Eating healthily and exercising can help individuals gain the strength to do the things they enjoy and aids cardiac rehab patients in acquiring confidence and overcoming feelings of despair. Also, being in a program with others who want to improve their heart health can be supportive and uplifting.

Before referring a patient to cardiac rehabilitation, the health care provider will evaluate them to determine if a cardiac rehabilitation program is the best treatment and verify that they can proceed with the program safely. The patient may have an electrocardiogram (EKG), lab tests and a stress test on a treadmill.

What Can an Individual Expect From a Cardiac Rehabilitation Program?

For the cardiac patient who’s recovering from inpatient treatment, cardiac rehab may begin with ambulation or walking after surgery and discharge instructions regarding activity during recovery at home. Outpatient cardiac rehabilitation patients participate in low-impact exercises that may include cycling, walking and jogging to increase stamina and weight-bearing exercise to increase strength. Staff overseeing cardiac rehabilitation programs ensure patients exercise safely to avoid overexertion. Individuals typically participate in cardiac rehab activities 2-3 times per week for about three months.

Cardiac Rehab Patients Learn the Importance of Healthy Lifestyles

Cardiac rehabilitation participants also engage in healthy lifestyle education, including making heart-healthy food choices, quitting smoking, taking medication as prescribed and adopting other behaviors that keep the heart healthy. Patients participate in counseling to help reduce stress. For people with risk factors such as hypertension and elevated cholesterol, nutrition counseling can help them avoid fatty foods that clog the arteries and salty foods that raise blood pressure. Individuals with diabetes will learn how to choose healthy carbohydrates to help control blood sugar levels.

Attendance Is Necessary for Success

Individuals who attend cardiac rehabilitation as their health care provider recommends are most likely to experience the desired outcomes. After completing the program and continuing to exercise and eat well, cardiac rehab patients can grow stronger, feel better and avoid rehospitalization and the debilitating effects of poor heart health.