What is Cardiac Rehabilitation?

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What does cardiac rehab involve?

Cardiac rehabilitation doesn’t change your past, but it can help you improve your heart’s future.

Cardiac rehab is a medically supervised program designed to improve your cardiovascular health if you have experienced a heart attack, heart failure, angioplasty or heart surgery. Cardiac rehab has 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: A key element of cardiac rehab is educating yourself: How can you manage your risk factors and take care of yourself? Quit smoking? Make heart-healthy nutrition choices?
  • Counseling to reduce stress: Stress hurts your heart. This part of cardiac rehab helps you identify and tackle everyday sources of stress.

Cardiac rehab is a team effort

You don’t need to face heart disease alone. Cardiac rehab is a team effort.

You’ll partner with many health care professionals including doctors, nurses, pharmacists — plus family and friends — to take charge of the choices, lifestyle and habits that affect your heart.

Getting started

Here’s how to get going and make the most of cardiac rehab:

  • Ask your doctor if you are eligible.
  • Register for a cardiac rehab program if you’re eligible.
  • Set goals for your heart health in consultation with your medical team.
  • Work together to create a cardiac rehab plan.
  • Take an active role in your care to achieve your goals.
  • Keep taking your medications correctly.
  • Call 911 if you experience new or worsening symptoms.

Understanding your heart condition

Coronary artery disease, or CAD, which can lead to a heart attack, is the most common type of heart condition in the United States. Atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque in the inner walls of the arteries, is a major cause of coronary artery disease. Much of your cardiac rehab treatment plan centers on minimizing or reversing atherosclerosis through lifestyle changes and medications.

No matter what condition brought you to cardiac rehab, learning how it developed and may progress can help you understand why it's so important to achieve your treatment goals.

Learn more about these conditions:

Cardiac Rehab Director Dr. Basil Margolis Talks About Cardiac Rehab
Your Heart Surgery: Rehab and Recovery

Support That Empowers

Recovery becomes so much more manageable when you have the right kind of emotional support. Our online community of patients, survivors and caregivers is here to keep you going no matter the obstacles. We’ve been there, and we won’t let you go it alone.
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