senior couple riding bikes

February is American Heart Month, so here on the CaringTimes blog, we’re talking about matters of the heart:  today it’s heart health.  We’ve discussed the warning signs of a heart attack and given you some guidelines about what to do if you have any of the symptoms.  

But what if you’ve already had a cardiac event such as heart attack? What does the future hold for you?

What is cardiac rehabilitation?

Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically-supervised program meant to improve the health of people who have heart problems. A rehab program may include exercise training, education about how to live a heart-healthy lifestyle, and counseling to help you get back on your feet and apply healthy lifestyle changes to your everyday routine.

Cardiac rehab is designed to help you take an active role in your healthy future and reduce the risk of further heart problems. A cardiac rehab program can help you prevent future hospital stays, heart events, and death caused by heart problems.

Can cardiac rehabilitation help me?

If you’ve had a heart attack, a heart procedure such as an angioplasty or pacemaker surgery, or you have a heart condition such as heart failure, you may benefit from a cardiac rehab program.

The length of the program depends on your individual needs. Many programs last about three months, but some can continue for years.

Many hospitals and community groups, such as local senior centers, offer cardiac rehab programs. Cardiac rehab is often covered by health plans, including Medicare. To find out about cardiac rehab programs in your area, you can ask your doctor or nurse for a recommendation. You can also use this program directory, supplied by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation.

Have you or a loved one been through cardiac rehabilitation? Did the program help you? Share your experience in the comments, and help others who may be considering cardiac rehab.

  • Karen

    My friend who is 72, had a heart attack in May, and after going home, was told to walk so many minutes a day. 2 months later, going in for tests/checkup. She only has 35% of her heart working, and it seems so far no real program to build her back up, other than doing it herself. By noon she has to sit down as she is so tired. I hope her doctors start a program for her so she gets stronger. She has a doting husband and family nearby, but would love to see her improve as time goes on if possible.