Key Points about Cardiac Rehabilitation Treatment

  • Cardiac rehabilitation – often known as “cardiac rehab” – is a medically-supervised exercise and lifestyle program that can improve outcomes for those with heart conditions or with risk factors for developing heart conditions. 
  • Cardiac rehab occurs in an outpatient setting or a hospital rehabilitation center. 
  • Programs are designed around the specific needs of each patient.


According to studies, people who participate in cardiac rehab have up to 30% fewer fatal heart events and are 25% less likely to die than people who get standard therapy alone. Participants can also lower their chances of a second heart attack or heart surgery. Cardiac rehab offers training, education and exercise to improve your health and quality of life, reduce the need for medicines and to reduce the risk of hospitalization and future heart problems.

Candidates for cardiac rehabilitation treatment

Your cardiologist may recommend you participate in a cardiac rehab program if you have experienced any of the following:

  • Angioplasty
  • Carotid endarterectomy
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Heart valve repair
  • Mitral valve repair surgery
  • Stent placement

Preparing for cardiac rehabilitation

Before starting a cardiac rehab program, your doctor will get your complete health history, do a physical exam and, if necessary, perform any tests such as an electrocardiogram (EKG) or cardiac imaging test.

Expectations from cardiac rehabilitation

There are three components of a cardiac rehab program:

  • Counseling to manage stress. Having too much stress in your life is harmful to your heart. Learn tips to help reduce and manage stressors in your daily life.
  • Exercise training. Regular exercise at healthy levels works to strengthen your heart. Work with a medical exercise team to establish an exercise program that fits your health needs and goals. You will learn to exercise safely and increase your physical activity over time. 
  • Heart-healthy living training. You’ll learn about how to reduce your risk factors for further heart conditions. Get tips on making heart smart nutrition choices, home exercises, tobacco cessation and other important efforts to live a healthy life.

Recovery from cardiac rehabilitation

People who participate in cardiac rehab programs often have better outcomes than those who don’t participate in a structured program. While participating in cardiac rehab, you’ll continue to see your cardiologist for regular checkups and to adjust your program as you improve.

Common conditions requiring cardiac rehabilitation

Your cardiologist may recommend your try cardiac rehab if you’ve had a heart attack, are in heart failure or have undergone an angioplasty or heart surgery. Cardiac rehab is recommended for people who have: 

  • Experienced a heart attack
  • Had a heart procedure such as angioplasty or cardiac stenting
  • Had coronary artery bypass surgery
  • Have coronary artery disease
  • Have peripheral artery disease
  • Heart failure

When to seek care

If you think you may benefit from participating in cardiac rehabilitation, start by voicing your concerns and symptoms to your primary care provider. From there, your doctor may suggest seeing a cardiologist for more specialized treatment. 

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