What happens during cardiac rehabilitation?

Cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) is a program that is supervised by medical personnel and is designed to improve the health and well-being of people who have heart problems. Such programs include exercise training, education on maintaining a healthy heart, stress management counseling and so on. Cardiac rehab can be of help to you if you:

  • are recovering after a heart attack or heart surgery,
  • are trying to prevent future hospital stays and heart problems,
  • are addressing the risk factors that can lead to coronary heart disease and other heart problems, such as:
    • high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, overweight or obesity, diabetes, smoking, a lack of physical activity, and emotional health concerns,
    • are adopting healthy lifestyle changes such as:
      • heart healthy diet, being physically active, and managing stress,
      • and are trying to improve your health and quality of life.

Each cardiac rehab program is specific to the individual it was designed for. If you have questions or concerns about your heart health, please see your physician or cardiologist right away. If you are having a heart attack or even if you think you are having one, please call 911!

If you are looking for a cardiac rehabilitation program or facility, you can visit The Joint Commission and use their database, QualityCheck, to search by state, zip code, or city to find any programs near you. The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF, International) is also available to help you search for a cardiac rehabilitation provider.  Of course, there is the Consumer’s Guide to Choosing a High Quality Medical Rehabilitation Program (PDF), which is available for download and which includes great information (questions to ask an admissions counselor, a glossary of terms, and checklists to name a few examples).

We searched through the REHABDATA database and found a number of articles dealing with cardiac rehabilitation, coronary disease as a secondary medical condition, and cardiac diseases and people with disabilities. We enumerate a few here:

  • Cardiac management in neuromuscular diseases. NARIC Accession Number: J65066.
  • Cardiac rehabilitation in chronic heart failure: Effect of an 8-week, high-intensity interval training versus continuous training. NARIC Accession Number: J64488.
  • Differential improvements in lipid profiles and Framingham recurrent risk score in patients with and without diabetes mellitus undergoing long-term cardiac rehabilitation. NARIC Accession Number: J61922.
  • Stroke and heart disease prevention education via telenovela: A focus group’s evaluation. NARIC Accession Number: J64405.

To conduct your own search, please visit our Knowledgebase, REHABDATA, and NIDRR Research Projects search pages. For more information on cardiac rehabilitation and cardiac disease, please visit the Mayo Clinic and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  You can also visit the American Heart Association to learn more and which provides a section on tools and resources related to cardiac rehabilitation. If you are a medical professional, visit the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention to see the latest articles on cardiac and pulmonary rehab issues and themes.

About mpgarcia

I'm the Bilingual Information/Media Specialist at NARIC.
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