Your doctor may recommend joining a cardiac rehabilitation program to help you return to better health after you've had a heart attack, heart surgery or if you have certain other heart conditions, such as angina, heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathy.
Cardiac Rehabilitation is a specialized outpatient program consisting of exercise and education. The goals of cardiac rehab are to help you regain strength, to prevent your condition from worsening, and to reduce your risk of future heart problems. All these add up to a better quality of life.
The Four Components of Cardiac Rehabilitation
A thorough medical evaluation helps your health care 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's safe and effective.
Cardiac Rehabilitation improves your cardiovascular fitness through endurance activities such as walking or cycling. You may also do strength training to increase your muscular fitness. Your cardiac rehab team will make sure the program moves at a pace that you are comfortable with, even if you've never exercised before.
Guidance about diet and nutrition helps you shed excess weight and learn to make healthier food choices aimed at reducing fat, sodium, and cholesterol. You receive tips on breaking unhealthy habits such as smoking. You also learn how to manage pain or fatigue that may accompany your heart condition. Cardiac Rehab also gives you ample opportunity to ask questions about such 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 have to stop working for several weeks. Counseling, group support, and stress management techniques offer you healthy ways to cope.
Cardiac rehabilitation is available at Mercy Fitzgerald and Mercy Suburban Hospitals.