The goal of
cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) is to help you reestablish and maintain
a healthy, active lifestyle after a major heart problem, such as a heart attack
or heart surgery, or if you have a long-term heart condition. Rehab can help you return to
work, resume recreational and other activities, and resume a normal sex
To keep getting the benefits of cardiac rehab, you will have to
continue to exercise and follow the healthy lifestyle changes you've learned.
I had my first heart attack 26 years ago, when I was 52. I was very active
then, sometimes jogging and often walking long distances. But I was also on the
congressional staff in Washington, and the day leading up to the attack was
even more hectic than usual. My boss was introducing major legislation, and I
had crafted an important floor speech. I didn’t have time for regular meals and
ate a huge cheeseburger for dinner, then smoked three or four cigarettes.
It happened about 3 in the morning...
Exercise and lifestyle changes. Although exercise is a significant part of cardiac rehab, lifestyle
changes combined with exercise may be more important than exercise alone in
keeping your heart healthy. Staying with your program can give you the support
you need to make these changes a permanent part of your life and may help
reduce the risk of further serious heart problems.
Getting back to work. After you have a heart problem (such as a heart attack or
heart surgery), cardiac rehab can help you return to work safely. How quickly you
can return to work depends on how bad your heart problem is and how much
physical activity your job requires. Your rehab program might include job or vocational counseling.
Resuming sex. You or your
partner may be worried that you will have symptoms such as chest pain or will
not have enough energy for sex. Sharing your concerns and fears about having
sex is important for both partners. Both partners need to feel ready to restart
having sex. Ask your doctor or a member of your rehab team when it's safe for you to have sex.
Managing stress. Stress management
may lower the risk of serious heart problems, such as heart attacks. People who
do not deal well with anger and frustration may have a higher risk of
coronary artery disease. Learning to manage stress is
often part of programs to help you make positive changes in your
Seeking treatment for depression.Depression is often overlooked, especially in older
adults, but commonly occurs after a serious heart problem. Depression can make
it difficult for you to have the energy to perform some of the cardiac rehab
programs. If you feel you suffer from symptoms of depression, make sure you
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
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