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How Can Cardiac Rehabilitation Help Your Heart?

If you are a heart patient, participating in a cardiac rehabilitation program can be a powerful way to take control of your heart disease and get on track to regain strength and live a longer, healthier life. Cardiac rehabilitation can help your healing process through a combination of physical activity, nutrition counseling, education and support.

How Did You Get Here?

You may be eligible for cardiac rehab if you have experienced heart disease or had heart-related procedures of any kind, including: 
  • Heart attack 
  • Coronary stenting 
  • Bypass surgery 
  • Angioplasty 
  • Valve replacement 
  • Angina (chest pain) 
  • Heart or heart/lung transplant 
  • Heart failure 
  • Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) 
  • Certain congenital heart diseases 

No matter what condition brings you to cardiac rehab, learning how it developed and how it may progress can help you achieve your treatment goals. 

If high cholesterol is a factor contributing to your coronary artery disease, you may learn about ways to lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol and boost HDL ("good") cholesterol. You may begin a medically supervised exercise routine through the cardiac rehab program and meet with a nutrition counselor to manage your cholesterol. At completion of the program, you'll be armed with the tools you need to continue a heart-healthy lifestyle on your own.

If your heart is weak from a heart attack or congestive heart failure, you may be wary of physically exerting yourself. A cardiac rehab program provides a safe environment for you to exercise under close medical supervision. Each patient is different, and your physician will determine whether or not you could benefit from the program.

Stages of Rehabilitation

For many patients, the recovery process includes three stages. 

Stage I of the program begins right in your hospital room. Patients hospitalized with serious heart conditions often begin with simple, non-tiring exercises. When you have enough strength, you may feel like taking short, leisurely walks. Patients also focus on performing daily routines. 

Stage II occurs after you've returned home from the hospital. During rehab sessions, patients improve their fitness level through exercise and learn how to create healthy habits for life. Counseling may also be provided. 

Stage III of recovery is focused on long-term health goals. Patients continue to exercise regularly and are encouraged to apply what they've learned during rehab to their everyday lives. 

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