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Cardiac Rehabilitation

Cardiac rehabilitation (“cardiac rehab”) is a professionaly supervised program designed by your health care team. It will help you recover from your heart problem and reduce your risk of future heart problems. Along with a tailored exercise program, cardiac rehab provides education and counseling to improve health.

Man on treadmill with health care provider standing next to treadmill, supervising man's exercise.
Your cardiac rehab program may use treadmills and stationary bikes to increase endurance. Arm cranks, weights, and wall pulleys may be used to build upper body strength.

Your Rehab Program

Your cardiac rehab program may start while you’re still in the hospital. After you leave the hospital, you may go to a facility for rehab classes. You’ll regain some strength and learn how to exercise safely. Once you do that, your doctor may prescribe an exercise program for you to do at a gym or at home.

As an Inpatient

You may start light exercise within 2 days of entering the hospital.

As an Outpatient

As early as 1–2 weeks after leaving the hospital, you can join a supervised rehab program.

  • Exercises will be prescribed to help you build strength and movement. The first month will most likely include easier exercises. Over time, you’ll exercise harder to improve your endurance.

  • Your heart, oxygen saturation, and blood pressure may be monitored as you work.

  • Cardiac rehab programs are tailored to meet your needs. Some patients may participate in the program for six weeks while others will participate six months or longer.

Maintain the Benefits to Your Health

Don’t stop once you’ve finished your program! Make what you learned in rehab a regular part of your life. Here are some tips:

  • Work out at home or at a gym. Try renting a new workout video each week. Take an exercise class. Find something that keeps you interested.

  • Ask family and friends to help you stay motivated.

  • Make other lifestyle changes to improve your heart and overall health. Quit smoking. Make changes to lower your stress. Lose excess weight. And lower your blood pressure and cholesterol.

Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Petersen, Sheralee, MPAS, PA-C
Last Review Date: 3/22/2013
© 2000-2014 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.