Did you know that there is rehab for your heart? If you’ve suffered a heart attack or other cardiac event, there is something you can do to reduce the potentially devastating effects. And if you haven't yet had a heart attack but you're at risk for one, there's also something you can do to take charge of your health and turn that around. Cardiac rehabilitation can put you on the path to a healthy heart.
Cardiac rehab is a customized and medically supervised program of exercise and education designed to help people recover from or prevent a cardiac event like a heart attack, heart surgery, or certain forms of heart disease. If you have risk factors for a cardiac event, such as smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history, stress, obesity, or sedentary lifestyle, you should consider cardiac rehab as one critical component of regaining your health.
Whether you begin cardiac rehab to recover from a cardiac event or to prevent one, you can follow your initial rehab program with a maintenance program that allows you to continue exercising under medical supervision over the long term.
A medical evaluation is the first step, so that your rehab can be customized to your individual needs. Once you begin, you can expect your program to include: physical activity and strength training to improve your cardiovascular fitness; education about nutrition, medication, stress management and other lifestyle changes you can make to help prevent future heart problems; emotional support from staff and other people in the program who have similar life situations; and peace of mind because you will be doing all of this under medical supervision.
The benefits of cardiac rehab are many. Not only will you reduce your risk for heart disease, you’ll also improve your ability to carry out your daily activities which will in turn improve your quality of life.
If you know or suspect that you are at risk for a cardiac event, look into cardiac rehab programs in your area and talk to your primary care provider about a referral. The cardiac rehab facility may also offer free education programs open to the general public – this is a great way to learn more about how the program may benefit you before getting started.
Carol Artiaco is clinical coordinator for the Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program at Day Kimball Hospital.