After suffering from a heart attack or undergoingheart surgery, it becomes vital that you rest and slowly ease back into your usual routine gradually. Participating in a cardiac rehabilitation program can facilitate a better recovery by guiding the patient through the healing process and addressing lifestyle factors at play that may inhibit recovery or put the patient at risk of future heart problems.
A cardiac rehab program will be customized for each patient, and may include:
- Re-education on healthy living
- Development of an exercise program suited to the patient
- Stress reduction techniques
Re-education on healthy living
Many patients simply don’t know how their food choices and exercise habits can affect their heart health in the long run — and many who do have an idea of general heart-healthy nutritional guidelines don’t know how to begin making changes that could extend their lives. Patients will learn techniques to address their intake of cholesterol, unhealthy fats, sodium, and processed foods as well as cook with healthy ingredients like vegetables and whole grains. They’ll also be educated on the importance of exercising more, smoking cessation and appropriate sexual activity levels for their condition.
Development of an exercise program
It’s important to exercise regularly for heart health, but it’s also important after a cardiac event or surgery not to stress the body excessively. Having medical guidance ensures that the exercise program is suitable for the individual patient and that it’s a program that they can continue on their own. Exercise programs may include walking, jogging, cycling, gym activities, and even strength training. You’ll also learn to stretch, warm up, and cool down properly.
Stress reduction techniques
Stress is a definite contributing factor to having a heart attack, and addressing the influence of stress helps prevent future heart problems. Patients will learn healthy stress management techniques, breathing exercises, and how to manage their condition as a team with family and a support network of friends.
Patients will have frequent checkups to monitor heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol levels and other important factors.
The program is designed to improve your overall health, quality of life and life expectancy. Cardiac rehabilitationis a long-term process and programs can last up to several months; although patients will be able to continue to improve their health by sticking with their programs after the monitoring period. Post-surgery, the program may begin slowly with a walking program and then progress to heavier exercise during the next phase.