rehabilitation (rehab) teaches you how to be more active and make lifestyle
changes that can lead to a stronger heart and better health. Cardiac rehab can
help you feel better and reduce your risk of future heart problems.
In cardiac rehab, you work with a team of health professionals. Often the
team includes a doctor, a nurse specialist, a dietitian, an exercise therapist,
and a physical therapist. The team designs a program just for you, based on
your health and goals. Then they give you support to help you succeed.
Heart disease has haunted generations of Robin Drummond's family. "I have a
family history of
heart disease on both sides," says the 55-year-old African-American and
resident of Hammond, La. "I've had uncles, aunts, and grandparents who've died
heart attacks and heart disease, and two of my mother's brothers died four
months apart. One had a heart attack in church, and four months later, one had
a heart attack in the post office."
When Drummond's father succumbed to heart disease...
If you have a heart problem or had surgery, you may be afraid to exercise. Or if you
have never exercised, you may not know how to get started. Your cardiac rehab
team will help you start slowly and work up to a level that is good for your
Many hospitals and rehab centers offer cardiac rehab
programs. You may be part of a cardiac rehab group, but each person will follow
his or her own plan.
Who should take part in cardiac rehab?
often prescribe cardiac rehab for people who have had a
heart attack or
bypass surgery. But people with many types of heart or
blood vessel disease can benefit from cardiac rehab. Rehab might help you if
Had another type of
heart surgery, such as valve replacement.
Often people are not given the chance to try cardiac
rehab. Or they may start a program but drop out. This is especially true of
women and older adults. And that's not good news, because they can get the same
benefits as younger people. If your doctor suggests cardiac rehab, stay with it
so you can get the best results.
Medicare will pay for cardiac
rehab for people with certain heart problems. Many insurance companies also
provide coverage. Check with your insurance company or your hospital to see if
you will be covered.
At first your rehab team will keep a close watch on how exercise
affects your heart. As you get stronger, you will learn how to check your own
heart rate when you exercise. By the end of rehab, you will be ready to
continue an exercise program on your own.