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Learning About Cardiac Rehabilitation

What is it?

Cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) is a program for people who have a heart problem. It teaches you how to be more active and make other lifestyle changes. These can lead to a stronger heart and better health.

Why is cardiac rehab done?

Cardiac rehab can help you get better after being in the hospital for a heart problem or heart surgery. It may help you to:

  • Lower your risk of a heart attack or dying from heart disease.
  • Prevent future heart problems if you're at high risk for heart disease or a heart attack.
  • Stay out of the hospital.
  • Build your strength. This can help increase the amount of activity you can do.
  • Manage your symptoms. These may include chest pain, shortness of breath, and fatigue.
  • Manage other health problems. These include high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Other benefits

Rehab may also help you to:

  • Go back to work safely and sooner.
  • Feel more hopeful. You may feel less depressed, stressed, or worried.
  • Get support from your rehab team and other patients in rehab.
  • Have more energy and return to your usual activities.
  • Resume your sex life.
  • Have a heart-healthy lifestyle. This includes being active, eating healthy foods, losing weight, and not smoking.

What are some types of cardiac rehab?

Cardiac rehab programs can be done in an office, a clinic, or your home.

These programs usually include:

  • Close supervision. This happens during the early part of your exercise program.
  • Education and counselling for you and your family. This can help you build healthy habits. These habits will lower your risk of having more heart problems.
  • Helping you prepare to get back to work and the activities you enjoyed before your heart problems. You may need to adjust your work or leisure activities.
  • Taking care of your emotional health. You can get help for depression and improve your emotional well-being.
  • Making a plan to help you start a safe exercise program at home.

What does a cardiac rehab team do?

In cardiac rehab, you work with a team of health professionals. The team may include a doctor, a nurse specialist, a dietitian, an exercise therapist, and a physiotherapist. They design a program just for you, based on your health and goals. They also give you support to help you succeed.

What happens before you start cardiac rehab?

Before you start cardiac rehab, your doctor will check your heart health to see what types of exercises you can safely do. Tests may include electrocardiograms and echocardiograms. You may also have tests during rehab. They will help your doctor see how you are doing.

Where can you learn more?

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