Cardiac rehabilitation programs help participants resume a healthy lifestyle after a cardiac event and include monitored exercise, education and counseling about cardiac risk factors, and psychosocial support.
Who Is Eligible for Cardiac Rehabilitation?
Cardiac rehabilitation programs are appropriate for patients who have had a heart attack, angioplasty or stent, open heart surgery such as coronary artery bypass, valve replacement, or heart transplant or for people with a diagnosis of angina or heart failure. Insurance coverage for these diagnoses may vary. There is no minimum or maximum age limit for participation and cardiac rehab is effective for both men and women. Cardiac rehabilitation professionals know how to individualize exercise programs, based on age, level of fitness, other medical conditions, and previous experience with exercise equipment. Cardiac rehabilitation staff design education and counseling sessions according to a participant’s unique assessment and needs.
What Are the Benefits of Cardiac Rehabilitation?
Recent studies have shown that people who attend cardiac rehabilitation are more likely to be alive and well at 5 years, compared to those who do not.
Cardiac rehabilitation also improves:
- Exercise capacity and stamina
- Quality of life
- Sense of well-being
- Adherence to healthy lifestyle changes and medications
What to Expect in Cardiac Rehabilitation
Benefits from exercise are greatest when a person exercises 3 to 6 times per week, so most cardiac rehabilitation programs expect participants to attend 2 or 3 exercise sessions per week at the cardiac rehabilitation center and to supplement this with exercise at home, such as walking. Cardiac rehabilitation professionals write an individualized exercise prescription for participants, based on information from the referring doctor. Sessions generally last around an hour and may also include education about nutrition, stress reduction, medications, smoking cessation, and exercise. After supervised, monitored exercise for 24 to 36 sessions, participants are encouraged to continue with regular exercise, either at home or in their community. Many cardiac rehabilitation programs offer wellness or maintenance exercise programs for people with heart disease to continue to exercise in supervised group sessions. These programs are generally low cost and are paid for by the individual.
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|Dr. Kimberly Skelding explains what is involved in cardiac rehab and why many people benefit from attending a cardiac rehab program after a heart event or procedure, or a stroke.
How Can I Find a Cardiac Rehabilitation Program?
To find a program in your area, visit the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) Program Directory at http://www.aacvpr.org/Resources/SearchableProgramDirectory/tabid/97/Default.aspx.