What is Cardiac Rehab?

Your heart is a muscle that, just like any other muscle, needs some help regaining its strength after experiencing an injury from a disease or traumatic event.


Cardiac rehabilitation, or cardiac rehab, is often recommended for individuals with heart disease who have just experienced a major cardiac event, such as a surgery or heart attack. Cardiac rehab isn’t recommended for everyone and every program may be a little different––some are done in a hospital or rehabilitation center while others can be done in-home. The common thread is that they all aim to help you recover and build heart-healthy habits to prevent future episodes.


Cardiac rehab may benefit you if you have certain heart conditions or have had a procedure including stable angina, heart attack, heart failure, heart valve repair or replacement, angioplasty with or without a stent or peripheral artery disease. The program may last six weeks to more than a year, during which you’ll work with different healthcare providers including specialists, primary care physicians, cardiac nurses, physical and occupational therapists and counselors. It all depends on your individual needs and care plan.


A program may include some or all of the following elements:


Exercise: You will exercise under the supervision of a cardiovascular specialist, following a plan that gradually increases the intensity over time.


Nutrition Counseling: You will work with registered dietitians to learn about nutrition and how to maintain a heart-healthy diet.


Education & Support: You will receive continuous education and support to help you through your recovery and beyond. Most programs provide education that focuses on reducing your risk for future cardiac-related events and improving your overall health and well-being.


Occupational Therapy: Many programs also include occupational therapists for cardiac rehab patients in an attempt to regain your strength and confidence as you prepare to resume your normal daily activities.


“Cardiac rehab is an integral part in the management of patients with a wide range of cardiovascular disease,” says Tom Moccia, D.O., FACC, a cardiac specialist with Cardiac Partners and the Clinical Director of Cardiac Rehab for Inspira Health. He continues, “Cardiac rehab has been shown to reduce mortality, increase exercise tolerance which typically declines as we age, and improves overall quality of life and well-being.”


“It’s important that you complete the program as instructed to get its full benefits. Older adults are less likely to go to or finish a cardiac rehab program. They may think they are not physically capable because of their age or other existing conditions. On the contrary, cardiac rehab can be especially useful for older adults to help them improve their strength and mobility, so see it through to the end,” directs Dr. Moccia. Your care team will work to ensure your long-term success after your cardiac rehab program comes to an end.


To learn more about Cardiac Rehab services with Cardiac Partners at Cooper and Inspira, visit our website at www.CardiacPartners.org.