Heart Failure: Rehab by Stage

Cardiac rehabilitation is an important part of heart failure treatment. You’ll get education and support from a team of medical professionals. You can learn how to get more physical activity, ease your symptoms, and avoid more heart problems. 

The Goals of Treatment

It’s usually divided into phases covering four main parts:

  • Physical activity
  • Lifestyle education
  • Mental and emotional support

The object isn't just to improve your health, but also to make you stronger and lower your risk of more issues.

The Treatment Team

Who’ll help you along the way depends on your needs. Your group may include:

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Dietitians
  • Exercise experts
  • Physical and occupational therapists
  • Mental health specialists

Length of Treatment

How long your program will last depends on your needs. Many run about 3 months. Still, your own track may be different. Talk with your team.

Get Ready

Before you begin your program, you’ll go through a health assessment that could include:

  • Sharing your medical history
  • A physical exam
  • An electrocardiogram, or EKG, to measure your heart’s electric signals
  • Lab tests to check your blood sugar or cholesterol

Main Areas of Treatment

Exercise: Your team will create a plan that’s safe and easy to follow. It will likely include aerobic exercises like walking or cycling and strengthening exercises like light weightlifting. Your plan will evolve as your fitness improves.

Lifestyle changes: Your team will also help you create a diet plan tailored to you. You’ll learn to plan meals and make healthy food choices that are low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, and salt. You’ll get help to quit smoking if you need it, too.

Support: Depression and anxiety are common for people with heart disease. Emotional and psychological support is an important part of your treatment and recovery. Your team may include a mental health specialist, or your team may refer you to support groups or classes.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on September 05, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

American Heart Association: “What is Cardiac Rehabilitation?” 

Mayo Clinic: “Cardiac Rehabilitation.”

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: “What is Cardiac Rehabilitation?”

California Society for Cardiac Rehabilitation: “What is Cardiac Rehabilitation?”

 

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