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4 facts about cardiac rehab

July 6, 2023
2 minutes

If you’ve recently had a heart attack or heart surgery—or you’ve started treatment for a cardiac condition like angina or coronary artery disease—you might be asking, “What’s next?” The answer could be cardiac rehabilitation. Here are four facts to know about this specialized program.

1. Cardiac rehab is a medically supervised program that helps you adopt heart-healthy lifestyle changes. It can help you recover from things like a heart attack and learn ways to care for your physical and emotional health so that you can get back to doing the activities you enjoy.

2. Cardiac rehab is safe. The program is supervised by a specialized team of doctors and nurses, along with experts in other areas of heart health, such as physical therapists, dietitians and counselors. Cardiac rehab usually consists of three parts:

• Exercise training and counseling. You’ll learn how to exercise safely and increase your physical activity.

• Health education. This includes how to eat a heart-healthy diet and control other heart disease risk factors, such as smoking or diabetes.

• Counseling to reduce stress or depression. If needed, you can get help managing feelings that can affect your recovery and health.

3. Cardiac rehab may help your health in the long run. The program may have lasting benefits that include:

• Reducing your risk of other heart problems in the future.

• Improving your quality of life.

• Decreasing the amount of medicines you need to take.

4. Cardiac rehab requires a referral. Your doctor will need to refer you for cardiac rehab. Ask your doctor about the program and if you are a good candidate for it. Medicare and other insurers often pay for cardiac rehab.

Sources: American Heart Association; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

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