Patient Referral
Employee Referral
Make A Donation

What to Expect When Your Physician Orders Cardiac Rehabilitation

February is National Heart Month, and National Cardiac Rehabilitation Week takes place between February 13 and 19, 2023 — a good time to talk about the issue of heart disease. According to the CDC, heart disease is the top cause of death in the USA, accounting for one in every five deaths. Before entering hospice care in San Francisco and elsewhere, your physician may have referred you to a specialist to undergo cardiac rehabilitation.

It’s important to know what to expect when this occurs. Here’s a look.

Cardiac Rehab: Defined

Cardiac rehabilitation can’t erase the damage that’s already been done, but it can improve the future of your heart. It’s a medically-supervised program that can improve cardiovascular health in people who have had a heart attack, heart failure, heart surgery, or angioplasty, according to the American Heart Association. Cardiac rehab is generally comprised of three components:

  • Exercise counseling and training: Exercise gets your cardiovascular system pumping, which promotes heart health overall.
  • Education for heart-healthy living: A big part of cardiac rehab is being educated on how you can better manage your risk factors, such as quitting smoking and eating healthier.
  • Counseling for stress reduction: Stress is bad for your heart. Counseling will help you identify and address sources of stress so you can reduce those triggers.

A true team effort, cardiac rehab involves partnerships with your doctors, nurses, exercise physiologists, pharmacists, counselors, and dietitians, as well as your family and friends. Cardiac rehab programs are highly personalized and can take up to three months or more. Anyone can engage in cardiac rehab no matter what age or gender they are or what the initial heart issue is.

You can think of cardiac rehab as taking part in three phases:

  • Phase 1: Inpatient (admitted to the hospital or other facility)
  • Phase 2: Outpatient (attending appointments and then going home)
  • Phase 3: On your own (keeping up with exercises at your own pace and expense)

Cardiac rehab is quite common. Approximately 800,000 Americans have a heart attack each year, and for 25 percent of them, it’s not their first one. Cardiac rehab may prevent a second heart attack while decreasing the risk of death. However, not everyone who qualifies will participate in a cardiac rehab program — only between 20 and 30 percent actually do.

Who Needs Cardiac Rehab?

If you have had some kind of problem with your heart, you are a good candidate for cardiac rehab. Problems include:

  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Angina
  • Use of a ventricular assistive device
  • Heart or heart/lung transplant
  • Heart valve replacement or repair
  • Coronary artery angioplasty (w/ or w/out stent placement)
  • Coronary artery bypass graft

Why Is Cardiac Rehab Done

Cardiac rehab aids in the recovery of those who have had a heart attack or other issues by outlining an individual plan for safely improving health while pinpointing and managing other risk factors, says the Cleveland Clinic. It can be scary and even depressing to experience a heart attack, so it’s important to note that cardiac rehabilitation doesn’t just improve physical health, it can also improve psychological health and quality of life. With holistic support throughout all phases of rehab, patients can regain their health and self-confidence.

Risks of Cardiac Rehab

There are many benefits of cardiac rehab, to be sure, but there are also some risks involved. It’s not an appropriate course of action for every person who has had heart disease. To know for sure if you qualify for the program, your healthcare team must first evaluate your health, review your medical history, perform a physical exam, and do tests. Only then can it be determined if you should start a cardiac rehabilitation program.

Some people can experience injuries during the exercise portion of rehab, such as sprains or strained muscles. This is why you will be carefully monitored, at least during the first two phases, in an effort to lower this risk and educate you on how to avoid injuries when it’s time to exercise on your own. In addition, there is a slight risk of cardiovascular complications in people who take part in rehab.

Overall, though, cardiac rehab is a good thing for most people.

What to Expect

After your doctor orders cardiac rehab, you can expect a medical evaluation, a plan for physical activity, lifestyle education, and support during the first phases. You will be equipped with the skills you need to continue the protocol after the formal part of the program is complete. You are expected to continue the habits you learned in rehab for the remainder of your life.

In conclusion, the goal of cardiac rehabilitation includes establishing a plan to help a person regain their strength, prevent their condition from worsening, reduce their future risk of heart problems, and improve their health and quality of life, points out the Mayo Clinic.

Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice

To learn more about our hospice program and how we do our part to ensure heart health for our patients, contact us today at 888-978-1306.