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Surviving heart failure, heart surgery, angioplasty, or heart attack requires some serious lifestyle and health changes. Therefore, many people need to assess their current health and well-being and make changes to ensure proper recovery after one of these events. This process, which includes medical supervision from healthcare providers, is referred to as cardiac rehab

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What do you do in cardiac rehab?

There are several different aspects to cardiac rehab that focus on different areas, such as:

  • Education – You will learn more about your heart disease or heart-related illness and what you can do to manage your condition better. For example, if you smoke, you are encouraged to quit.
  • Exercise – Exercise is an essential part of cardiac rehab to help strengthen the heart and improve the circulatory system. In addition, your body will become stronger, and you will feel better about yourself. 
  • Counseling – Making lifestyle choices are challenging, and counseling provides a safe location to discuss those difficulties and help us determine the best approaches. Counseling also teaches us how to deal with stress and anxiety in a positive manner without elevating our blood pressure. 
  • Diet and Nutrition – You will learn more about heart-healthy foods and how to incorporate these into a balanced diet. In addition, you will discover what nutrition your body needs to help your body recover and become stronger. 

How long is cardiac rehab?

The duration of cardiac rehab can vary based on your diagnosis. On average, most programs last about three months. However, they could go as long as eight months to a year. Part of the duration depends on your commitment to your rehabilitation program. 

When you are willing to get involved and do your part to make lifestyle choices to improve your health and well-being, your cardiac rehab will not be as long. In addition, completing cardiac rehab does not mean you can slip back into former bad habits. You need to remain committed to doing your cardiac rehab exercises and eating a healthy, balanced diet. 

Can I do cardiac rehab at home?

Thanks to technology, you can do cardiac rehab at home through a virtual telehealth program. You are still supervised by healthcare professionals and cardiac rehabilitation specialists as you learn different exercises, receive counseling and education, and learn how to improve your diet and nutrition. 

What cardiac rehab exercises will I have to do?

Cardiac rehab exercises are tailored to your specific needs and current health level. For example, if you have been sedentary, you are not expected to go out and run five miles a day. Instead, you will start with exercises that get you moving, like walking and biking. Other exercises that can be used as part of a cardiac rehab program include:

  • Zumba
  • Yoga
  • Bicep Curls
  • Bench Presses
  • Planks
  • Leg Raises
  • Body Squats
  • Foam Rolling 
  • Weight Training
  • Stair Stepping
  • Jogging
  • Running

As your body becomes stronger, your cardiac rehabilitation specialist works with you to change your exercises to ensure they are benefiting you and your recovery. 

What are the 4 phases of cardiac rehabilitation?

Each cardiac rehab program will consist of four different phases as follows:

  • Phase I: Pre-surgery and hospitalization period. Your cardiac rehab will often begin before your surgical procedure or while you are still hospitalized following a heart attack or heart failure. You will go through an assessment, start education and rehab exercises, and develop a discharge plan. 
  • Phase 2: Discharge and outpatient period. This phase begins after you leave the hospital. The objective of this phase is to get you more comfortable with your rehab routine. You can do cardiac rehab at home or an outpatient facility. You will also learn how to make improvements to your diet and nutrition. 
  • Phase 3: Intensive outpatient period. Now that you are more comfortable with your cardiac rehab, things are taken to the next level. Exercises will become more challenging. You continue to receive education and counseling, as well as diet and nutrition advice. 
  • Phase 4: Ongoing maintenance period. After completing the other three phases, you move into this phase. The objective here is to maintain everything you have learned and continue to apply it to your lifestyle to reduce your risk of future heart-related problems. 

Can I start cardiac rehab if I am at risk of heart disease?

If you are at risk of heart disease, you can start taking steps to improve your heart health using cardiac rehab as the core of your personalized treatment programs. You should consult with your primary care provider and let them know you are interested in starting cardiac rehab to lower your risk of heart disease.

Your doctor may also want you to get a heart scan or body scan to determine if you have any buildup in your heart or arteries that could lead to a blockage, heart failure, heart attack, or stroke. The scans are useful as they can help your cardiac rehab specialist further tailor your program for you. 

Are you concerned about your risk of heart disease? Schedule a heart scan or body scan in Las Vegas at Preventative Diagnostic Center today. 

Sources:

How Cardiac Rehabilitation Can Help Heal Your Heart. (2022).

Heart-Healthy Foods. (2021). 

Top Cardiac Rehab Exercises. (2018).