Cardiac Rehab: Strengthening Your Heart After Leaving the Hospital

By Renee Lombo, MSN, RN, Cardiopulmonary Rehab Specialist

If you’ve had a heart attack or are dealing with other cardiac conditions, you may wonder if you’ll ever feel like your old self again. Cardiopulmonary rehabilitation can’t turn back the hands of time, but it can improve your heart’s future.

Cardiac rehab is an important part of the recovery process. Through medically supervised exercise, lifestyle education, and support, we help you return to your daily activities and reduce the risk for another cardiac event. Studies have shown cardiac rehab reduces hospital readmissions and can lower risk of death by 25 percent.

Who Benefits
Cardiac rehab isn’t limited to people who had a heart attack. You also may benefit if you have heart failure or stable angina (chest pain), or are recovering from heart bypass surgery, angioplasty, stent implantation, heart transplant or valve surgery.

Exercise, Lifestyle Changes are Key
To help strengthen your heart and head off another cardiac event, cardiac rehab focuses on exercise training, building healthier habits and reducing stress.

  • Physical activity - Learn exercises that will get your heart pumping and keep your cardiovascular system healthy. This may include training on a treadmill, stationary bike, or other equipment. If you haven’t exercised in a while, your team will make sure you are at a safe, comfortable pace.

  • Education for healthy living - Find out how to manage your personal risk factors, such as how to adopt a heart-healthy, Mediterranean-style diet, maintain a healthy weight, take your medicine as prescribed, and quit smoking, if needed.

  • Manage your stress - Because stress hurts your heart, you need to know how to identify and tackle everyday sources of stress. If you feel depressed or have difficulty handling your emotions, your team can assist in accessing counseling.

Programs are customized for each person and paced according to your condition and capabilities. Family members are encouraged to attend education sessions so they understand their loved one’s range of activities, goals, and need for follow-up care.

Regain Your Independence
Many insurance companies cover cardiac rehab. If you or someone you love has had heart problems, ask your health care provider if rehab is an option.

Virtua Health’s comprehensive cardiopulmonary rehab centers are conveniently located in Cherry Hill, Moorestown, Voorhees and Washington Township. Click here to learn more.

Updated November 17, 2020

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