What Is Cardiac Rehabilitation?
Cardiac rehabilitation is a treatment program that helps improve the health and well-being of people who have heart problems. Cardiac rehabilitation includes exercise training, education, and counselling to help you get stronger and return to an active lifestyle. This program can help you get better faster and reduce any future hospital stays.
Why May I Need Cardiac Rehabilitation?
Cardiac rehabilitation programs can help when you have or suffered from:
- a heart attack
- heart failure
- peripheral artery disease
- coronary artery disease
- lung or breathing problems.
Cardiac rehabilitation programs are also used when you have had:
- coronary artery bypass graft surgery
- heart valve replacement
- heart stent placement
- heart transplant
- aneurysm repair
What Are The Benefits Of Cardiac Rehabilitation?
Cardiac rehabilitation can help you:
- Reduce problems like chest pain and difficulty breathing
- Change risk factors that contribute to heart disease, such as:
- high blood pressure
- high blood cholesterol
- being inactive
- weighing over 30% more than your ideal weight
- Improve your emotional outlook so you feel:
- More hopeful
- Better about yourself
- More confident about taking care of yourself
- Get support from health experts as well as other people with similar problems.
- Learn healthy ways to manage stress.
- Learn how to manage and understand your medicines.
- Teach your family about your condition and how to participate in your recovery.
What Happens In Cardiac Rehabilitation?
You will be assessed by a cardiac rehabilitation team. They will check your health history and do a physical exam. You may need blood tests, exercise stress tests, and other evaluation methods to make sure that you are ready to start cardiac rehabilitation.
The cardiac rehabilitation team works with you to make a plan based on your health and goals. Your program will be tailored to fit you and your needs and may change as you progress. You may work with a health care team that includes:
- exercise specialists
- physical and occupational therapists
What Are The Phases Of Cardiac Rehabilitation?
A cardiac rehabilitation program is often divided into phases. You advance from one phase to the next.
Phase 1: This phase starts while you are still in the hospital. You may:
- Start by walking in your room and then in the hall.
- Do some simple exercises with a physiotherapist.
Phase 2: This phase begins when you go home or to another facility. You will travel to a cardiac rehabilitation centre or another place where rehabilitation is offered. This phase may last 8–12 weeks. During this phase:
- You will slowly increase your activity level while being closely watched by a nurse or physiotherapist.
- You will have medical tests and exams to monitor your progress.
- Your exercises may include strength or resistance training along with activities that cause your heart to beat faster (aerobic exercises), such as walking on a treadmill.
- Your condition will determine how often and how long these sessions last.
- You may learn how to:
- Cook heart-healthy meals.
- Control your blood sugar, if this applies.
- Stop smoking.
- Manage your medication intake. You may need help with scheduling or planning how and when to take your medicines. If you have questions about your medication, it is very important that you talk with your health care provider.
Phase 3: This phase continues for the rest of your life. In this phase:
- There will be less supervision.
- You may continue to participate in cardiac rehabilitation activities or become part of a group in your community.
- You may benefit from talking about your experience with other people who are facing similar challenges.
Follow These Instructions At Home:
- Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as instructed by your healthcare provider.
- Keep all follow-up visits as instructed by your healthcare provider. This is important.
Get Help Right Away If:
- you have severe chest discomfort, especially if the pain is crushing or pressure-like and spreads to your arms, back, neck, or jaw. Do not wait to see if the pain will go away.
- you have weakness or numbness in your face, arms, or legs, especially on one side of the body.
- your speech is slurred.
- you are confused.
- you have a sudden, severe headache or loss of vision.
- you have shortness of breath.
- you are sweating and have nausea.
- you feel dizzy or faint.
- you are fatigued.
These symptoms may represent a serious problem that is an emergency. Do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away. Get medical help right away. Call your local emergency services (999 in Malaysia.). Do not drive yourself to the hospital.
- Cardiac rehabilitation is a treatment program that helps improve the health and well-being of people who have heart problems.
- A cardiac rehabilitation program is often divided into phases. You advance from one phase to the next.
- The cardiac rehabilitation team works with you to make a plan based on your health and goals.
- Cardiac rehabilitation includes exercise training, education, and counselling to help you get stronger and return to an active lifestyle.
This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your healthcare provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your healthcare provider.
Ades P.A., Keteyian S.J., Wright J.S., et al: Increasing cardiac rehabilitation participation from 20% to 70%: a road map from the Million Hearts Cardiac Rehabilitation Collaborative. Mayo Clin Proc 2017; 92: pp. 234-242
Anderson L., Oldridge N., Thompson D.R., et al: Exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation for coronary heart disease: Cochrane Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Am Coll Cardiol 2016; 67: pp. 1-12
Feinberg J.L., Russell D., Mola A., et al: A mixed methods evaluation of the feasibility and acceptability of an adapted cardiac rehabilitation program for home care patients. Geriatr Nurs 2018; 39: pp. 191-198
Grace S.L., Midence L., Oh P., et al: Cardiac rehabilitation program adherence and functional capacity among women: a randomized controlled trial. Mayo Clin Proc 2016; 91: pp. 140-148
Havranek E.P., Mujahid M.S., Barr D.A., et al: Social determinants of risk and outcomes for cardiovascular disease: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation 2015; 132: pp. 873-898
Tang L.H., Kikkenborg Berg S., Christensen J., et al: Patients’ preference for exercise setting and its influence on the health benefits gained from exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation. Int J Cardiol 2017; 232: pp. 33-39
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