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Cardiac Rehabilitation: Lifestyle Changes

A cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) program can help you make lifestyle changes. In cardiac rehabilitation (rehab), a team of health professionals provides education and support to help you make new, healthy habits.

Quit smoking

Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do to reduce your risk of future problems. Medicines and counseling can help you quit for good.

Reduce angina (chest pain or discomfort)

Education and counseling can help you learn how to reduce episodes of angina (such as chest pain or discomfort). Angina occurs during activities that make the heart work harder, such as climbing stairs, having sex, eating a large meal, having emotional stress, or being exposed to cold. Other symptoms of angina include shortness of breath, nausea, and a cold, sweaty feeling. Angina is often relieved by rest and medicines.

Stay at a healthy weight

Education combined with exercise, diet, and support can help you stay at a healthy weight or lose weight if you need to. If you need to lose weight, try not to feel overwhelmed. Set small, attainable goals, and then get help to keep reaching those goals. Losing even a small amount of weight can improve your overall health and reduce your risk for further heart problems.

Have a heart-healthy eating plan

A heart-healthy eating plan can lower your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. These plans include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, oils, and nuts. These plans limit sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages, sodium, and red meats. Your cardiac rehab team can help you choose a plan that is right for you.

Stay active

You can lower your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke by staying active and following your cardiac rehab exercise plan. Your cardiac rehab team will help you with your exercise plan.

Improve emotional well-being

The education and support you receive in a cardiac rehab program can help you feel better about yourself in your everyday life. Seeking help for depression, along with managing any anxiety and anger you may have, can help you stay healthy.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Specialist Medical Reviewer John A. McPherson, MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology
Current as of March 12, 2014

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
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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