Cardiac Rehab: Getting your Heart Health Back on Track

Published on February 09, 2021

man with rehab ball

Cardiac Rehab: Get your Heart Health Back on Track

Cardiac rehab can help you regain your strength after heart surgery or a cardiac event, like a heart attack. Learn more about this medically supervised program.

After a heart attack, one of the most important things you (or a loved one) can do is follow your doctor’s advice. That often includes things like sticking to a heart-healthy diet, starting a safe exercise program, and taking medication. And, one of the first steps in your recovery likely includes cardiac rehabilitation.

What is cardiac rehab?

Cardiac rehabilitation can help tie together each piece of the puzzle when it comes to getting your heart healthy and strong. Cardiac rehab often includes:

  • Supervised exercise: A specially trained physical therapist works closely with you, your doctor, and entire care team to create an exercise program that helps you get active – without putting too much strain on your heart.

  • Education and support: It can be hard changing habits and living a heart-healthy life. Our team of dietitians, counselors, and nurses offer the encouragement and resources you need to make important changes, whether it’s losing weight, quitting smoking, or anything else that will help improve your health.

  • Counseling: Experiencing a heart attack, undergoing surgery, or navigating a cardiac diagnosis can be overwhelming. That’s why part of your cardiac rehabilitation also focuses on offering counseling and emotional support to manage stress, anxiety, and any other concerns or fears you may have.

Who needs cardiac rehabilitation?

Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically prescribed service. That means your doctor must refer you to cardiac rehab. Your doctor may recommend it if you have:

  • Experienced a heart attack or other cardiac event
  • Been diagnosed with heart disease, like coronary artery disease
  • Had heart surgery, such as bypass surgery, angioplasty, valve repair or replacement, or another cardiac intervention

Women and cardiac rehab

There’s often talk about women and heart disease, but not much discussion about the importance of women completing cardiac rehab. In fact, research has found that women are less likely to start or finish rehab programs. While research hasn’t uncovered any clear reason for this lower participation, it is most likely because physicians are less likely to suggest it.

Other reasons for lower participation may include:

  • Anxiety or embarrassment about starting an exercise regimen
  • Difficulty taking time off work or away from family
  • Lack of transportation to and from rehab appointments
  • Lack of awareness on the benefits and importance of cardiac rehabilitation

If you’re a woman and you’ve been referred to cardiac rehabilitation, be sure to talk with your care team about any concerns or questions you may have. There may be ways to overcome whatever barrier stands in your way – from flexible appointments after work or help with transportation. Your heart health is a priority, and your care team is there to support you however they can.

Cardiac rehab and you

If you think cardiac rehab may be a good fit for you or a loved one, talk to your cardiologist. Together, you can discuss how rehab may help you and create a plan that helps you improve your heart health.

Learn more about cardiac rehabilitation at Adventist HealthCare.

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