Cardiac rehabilitation

Your health care provider may recommend that you attend a medically supervised program called cardiac rehabilitation.

Cardiac rehabilitation involves structured exercise, education about your heart, information about how to manage your current condition, and a plan for helping to prevent more cardiac problems. Cardiac therapists will guide you through rehabilitation and watch you closely.

Inpatient cardiac rehabilitation

This phase of your rehabilitation takes place while you are still in the hospital. Members of a special cardiac rehabilitation team will meet with you. They may include an occupational therapist, registered nurses, an exercise physiologist, a respiratory care practitioner and a physical therapist.

Your cardiac rehabilitation therapist will work closely with your health care provider to prescribe a step-by-step program of activity and exercise. This will help prevent you from losing muscle mass while you're in the hospital.

This program is designed to monitor your heart's response to exercise and ensures you are safe and able to perform activities of daily living.

Outpatient cardiac rehabilitation

Your rehabilitation may continue on a regular schedule after you leave the hospital. These fully-monitored sessions will help you safely build up your tolerance for activity and improve the strength of your heart so you can return to your normal everyday tasks.

Educational programs and support groups will help you learn how to lower your risks and help yourself recover emotionally and physically.

Long-term maintenance cardiac rehabilitation

After you've completed your outpatient program, it is important to continue in other programs that promote cardiovascular and physical fitness, and support you as you help create a heart-healthy lifestyle. Some hospitals have a medical fitness center for you to continue your exercise program under the supervision of staff trained to monitor people with heart problems.

Benefits of a cardiac rehabilitation program

The benefits of a cardiac rehabilitation program include:

  • increasing your activity level, improving your cardiovascular fitness, and increasing your heart's functional capacity
  • reducing your risk factors
  • giving you more control over your own health
  • providing education about reducing risk factors and changing your lifestyle

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Treatments for Coronary Artery Disease, cvs-ah-24738
First Published: 06/01/2012
Last Reviewed: 06/01/2012