Cardiac Rehabilitation

1 What is a Cardiac Rehabilitation?

Also known as cardiac rehab, cardiac rehabilitation is a customized outpatient program of exercise and education.

Cardiac rehabilitation is designed to help you recover from a heart attack, other forms of heart disease or surgery to treat heart disease. 

Cardiac rehabilitation is often divided into phases that involve monitored exercise, nutritional counseling, emotional support and support and education about lifestyle modifications to reduce your risk of heart problems.

The goals of cardiac rehabilitation are to make an establishment of an individualized plan to help you regain your strength, to prevent your condition from aggravating, to reduce your risk of future heart problems, and to improve your health and quality of life. 

Cardiac rehabilitation programs increase your chances of survival. Both the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology recommend cardiac rehabilitation programs.

2 Reasons for Procedure

Here are the most common reasons to receive a cardiac rehabilitation.

Cardiac rehabilitation is an option for individuals with many forms of heart disease.

Particularly, you may benefit from cardiac rehabilitation if your medical history includes the following:

Do not be held back by your age from joining a cardiac rehabilitation program. Individuals of all ages can benefit from cardiac rehabilitation.

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3 Potential Risks

Along with undergoing a cardiac rehabilitation comes potential risks. Cardiac rehabilitation is not meant for everyone who has a history of heart disease.

Your health care team will make an evaluation of your health, including a review of your medical history, conducting a physical examination and performing tests, to make sure you are ready to start a cardiac rehabilitation program.

In rare cases, some people suffer injuries, such as strained muscles or sprains, while exercising as part of cardiac rehabilitation.

Your health care team will strictly monitor you when you exercise to lower this risk and will teach you how to prevent injury when you exercise alone.

4 Preparing for your Procedure

In preparing for your cardiac rehabilitation, you must follow your doctor’s orders. 

If you have had a heart attack or heart surgery before, or if you have another heart condition, ask your doctor about joining a cardiac rehabilitation program. Insurance and Medicare often cover the cost of cardiac rehabilitation.

Cardiac rehabilitation can start while you are still in the hospital and continue with monitored programs in an outpatient setting until home-based maintenance programs can be followed safely.

Otherwise, it may start a few weeks after dismissal from the hospital, specifically after a heart attack or heart surgery.

5 What to Expect

Read on to learn more about what to expect before, during, and after your cardiac rehabilitation.

The initial stages of most cardiac rehabilitation programs last about three to six months. During that period, you will work with a team of health care professionals, including cardiologists, nurse educators, dieticians, exercise rehabilitation specialists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists.

Cardiac rehabilitation has four basic parts:

  • Medical evaluation. Initial and ongoing evaluation will aid our health care team check your physical capabilities, medical limitations and other conditions you may have and keep track or your progress over a period of time. During your evaluation, your health care team will look at your risk factors for heart disease or stroke. This will help your team tailor a cardiac rehabilitation program to your individual situation, making sure it is safe and effective.
  • Physical activity. Cardiac rehabilitation will make an improvement on your cardiovascular fitness through walking, cycling, rowing, or even jogging and other endurance activities. You may also do strength training (lifting weights, for example) to increase your muscular fitness. Do not worry if you have never exercised before, your cardiac rehabilitation team will ensure the program moves at a comfortable pace and is suitable and safe for you, but in general you must exercise three to five times per week. You will be taught proper exercise techniques such as warming up and stretching.
  • Lifestyle education. Guidance about nutrition can help you shed excess weight and learn to make healthier food choices aimed at reducing fat, sodium and cholesterol in your diet. You'll also receive support and education on making lifestyle changes and breaking unhealthy habits, such as smoking. And you'll learn how to manage pain or fatigue. Cardiac rehabilitation also gives you ample opportunity to ask questions about such issues as sexual activity. Finally, it's critical you closely follow your doctor's advice on medications.
  • Support. Adjusting to a serious health problem often takes time. You may feel depressed or anxious, lose touch with your social support system, or have to stop working for several weeks. If you get depressed, don't ignore it because depression can make your cardiac rehab program more difficult, as well as impact your relationships and other areas of your life and health. Counseling will help you learn healthy ways to cope with depression and other feelings. Your doctor may also suggest medications such as antidepressants.

Vocational or occupational therapy will teach you new skills to help you return to work. Although it may be difficult to start a cardiac rehabilitation program when you're not feeling well, you'll benefit in the long run.

Cardiac rehabilitation can guide you through fear and anxiety as you return to an active lifestyle with more motivation and energy to do the things you enjoy. Cardiac rehabilitation helps you rebuild your life, both physically and emotionally.

As you get stronger and learn how to manage your condition, you'll likely return to a normal routine, along with your new diet and exercise habits.

It's important to know that your chances of having a successful cardiac rehabilitation program rest largely with you, the more dedicated you are to following your program's recommendations, the better you'll do. After cardiac rehabilitation.

After your cardiac rehabilitation program ends, you'll need to continue the diet and exercise habits you learned for the rest of your life to maintain heart-health benefits.

6 Procedure Results

If you do not understand your cardiac rehabilitation results, consult with your doctor.

Cardiac rehabilitation is a long-term maintenance program, something to follow for the rest of your life. After a period of 12 weeks, will probably develop your own exercise routine at home or at a local gym.

You may also continue to exercise at a cardiac rehab center. You may stay under medical supervision during this period, in particular, if you have special health conditions.

Education about nutrition, lifestyle and weight loss may continue, as well as counseling. To get the most benefits from cardiac rehabilitation, make sure your exercise and lifestyle practices become lifelong practices.

Over the long term, you will become stronger; learn heart healthy behaviors; improve your diet; cut bad habits, such as smoking; learn how to cope with heart disease. You will also reduce your risk of coronary heart disease and other different conditions.

One of the most valuable benefits of cardiac rehabilitation is an improvement in your quality of life. If you stick with your cardiac rehabilitation program, you are likely to come out of the program feeling better than before.

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