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Problems During Exercise for Cardiac Rehabilitation

In rare cases, a person in cardiac rehab may have problems during exercise.

These problems may include:

  • A drop in blood pressure (hypotension), which may cause lightheadedness.
  • Angina symptoms, such as chest pain or discomfort. Exercise causes the heart to work harder. As the heart works harder, the heart muscle needs more oxygen. If the narrowed heart vessels cannot provide enough blood (and oxygen) to the heart, chest pain will result.
  • Heart attack (rare). But most studies have shown that people who exercise are less likely to have a heart attack than people who do not exercise.
  • Irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias) or sudden death (rare). Exercise makes the heart muscle work harder, which in turn requires more oxygen. If the narrowed heart blood vessels cannot provide enough blood (with oxygen), the heart may develop irregular heartbeats. In rare cases, these irregular heartbeats cause sudden death.
By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Richard D. Zorowitz, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Last Revised October 5, 2010

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 05, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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