Cardiac rehabilitation, also known as “cardiac rehab,” is a program of services that helps people recover from heart disease. People who follow a cardiac rehabilitation program feel better, live longer and lead healthier lives. Cardiac rehab is beneficial for those who have had:
- a heart attack or other forms of heart disease, such as angina
- bypass surgery, coronary angioplasty, stent placement or other heart surgery or
- a heart transplant
Cardiac rehabilitation programs focus on exercise, education, counseling and behavior change. Exercise is usually in a group setting, but is personalized to each patient’s specific need. Education focuses on managing heart disease, meeting dietary goals, understanding self-management and following a treatment plan. Counseling identifies high-risk behaviors. Behavior change skills help participants adopt low-risk, healthy behaviors.
Cardiac rehabilitation programs are crucial for recovery. A program may be started when a heart disease patient is in the hospital and may last from several weeks to several months. The rehab team is made up of nurses, doctors, therapists, dietitians and other specialists. It is very important to adhere to instructions, ask questions and report any symptoms. Heart monitoring is always available. Be sure to check with your insurance company before starting a cardiac rehab program to find out what benefits you have.
For more heart health information, contact your local chapter of the American Heart Association, call the national office at (800) 242-8721 or visit its website at www.americanheart.org. For information on patient support groups, call Mended Hearts, Inc. at (888) 432-7899 or visit the website at www.mendedhearts.org.