Your doctor may recommend that you join a cardiac rehabilitation program to guide your return to better health after a heart attack or heart surgery or if you have other heart conditions such as angina, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathy.
Cardiac rehabilitation is a specialized outpatient program combining of exercise and education. The goals of the program are to help you regain strength, prevent your condition from worsening and reduce your risk of future heart problems – all adding up to a better quality of life.
The Four Components of Cardiac Rehabilitation
A thorough medical evaluation helps your healthcare team assess your physical abilities, medical limitations and other conditions you may have. Your team explores your risk factors for cardiovascular disease and then tailors a cardiac rehab program to your individual needs, making sure it is both safe and effective.
Cardiac rehabilitation improves your cardiovascular fitness through endurance activities such as walking or cycling. You also may undertake strength training to increase your muscular fitness. No matter what the activity, your cardiac rehab team will make sure the program moves at a comfortable pace for you, even if you might never have exercised before.
Nutrition guidance can help you shed excess weight and learn to make healthier diet choices aimed at reducing fat, sodium, and cholesterol. You also will receive tips on breaking unhealthy habits such as smoking. You also will be coached on how to manage the pain or fatigue that may accompany your heart condition. Cardiac rehab also provides opportunities to ask questions about issues as medications and sexual activity.
Adjusting to a serious heart problem often takes time. You may experience depression or anxiety, lose touch with your social support system or might need to stop working for several weeks. Counseling, group support and stress management techniques provided by your cardiac rehab help you build healthy coping skills.
Cardiac rehabilitation is available at Mercy Fitzgerald and Mercy Suburban Hospitals.