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Cardiac Rehabilitation - Risks

Cardiac rehabilitation exercise programs are safe and helpful. Exercise helps you return to your normal life. But there is a small risk of complications.1

If you have a health problem that makes exercise unsafe, your rehab will not include an exercise program. These health problems include:

Even if you can't exercise or be active, you will benefit from other parts of a cardiac rehab program. For example, you can get help with quitting smoking and reducing stress. And you can get advice on how to eat a heart-healthy diet. This type of education can lower the risk of heart-related death.

Safety and your rehab team

After having a heart attack or surgery or discovering you have heart disease, you may be afraid to exercise or be active. You may worry that exercise will cause another heart attack or that you aren't strong enough for a cardiac rehab program.

It may ease your fears to know that as you begin your rehab, your doctor will monitor your activity closely and health professionals will be on hand to deal with any problems you may have. Your rehab team will tailor all of your exercises specifically for you, based on your medical condition and overall health. All cardiac rehab begins slowly at a comfortable pace and may be as gentle as walking on a treadmill.

If you are worried or afraid to be active again, talk to your doctor. Exercise and activity can greatly improve the quality of your life.

Tell your doctor and other health professionals on your rehab team about all of the medicines you are taking, especially if they cause any side effects during exercise. Medicines may also affect your ability to participate in cardiac rehab. Some prescribed medicines can change your heart rate, blood pressure, and overall ability to exercise.

Watch for symptoms

When you exercise, be sure that you are aware of signs and symptoms that mean that you should stop exercising and contact your doctor.

Your ability to identify how your body is responding to exercise and what physical conditions are normal is necessary for your rehabilitation. It is important that you monitor specific physical information to be aware not only of your improvement but also of possible complications. If you have any other physical or medical concerns such as the flu, backache, or knee pain, it is best that you put off exercising until the problem passes. You should seek medical advice if it does not.

Your rehab team might ask you to be aware of:

  • How you feel.
  • Your heart rate.
  • Your blood pressure.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 27, 2012
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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