Cardiac Rehabilitation: What You Need To Know

Cardiac rehabilitation is an individually designed program of exercise and education to help you recover from a heart problem. Cardiac rehabilitation involves monitored exercise, nutritional counseling, emotional support, and education about beneficial lifestyle changes. The goals of cardiac rehabilitation are to help you regain strength, to prevent your condition from worsening and to reduce your risk of future heart problems.

The Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at The University of Vermont Medical Center is overseen by a specialized team of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, an exercise physiologist, and other healthcare professionals.

Cardiac rehabilitation begins in the hospital (known as Phase 1), and continues on an outpatient basis after discharge over a period of 3 to 4 months (Phase 2). Long-term exercise maintenance programs are also available (Phase 3).

Cardiac Rehabilitation Gym Schedule

The program consists of:

Phase 2: 3-4 month session following your cardiac event.

Phase 3: A long-term maintenance exercise program to keep you healthy.

Questions? If you have questions about which phase of rehab you are in, please ask your doctor.

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Cardiac Rehabilitation Has Four Main Parts:

  • Medical Evaluation - Initial and ongoing valuation helps your health care team check your physical abilities, medical limitations and other conditions you may have, and keep track of your progress over time. This helps your team tailor a cardiac rehabilitation program to your individual situation, making sure it's safe and effective.
  • Physical Activity - A primary aim of cardiac rehabilitation is to improve your cardiovascular fitness through walking/jogging, cycling, rowing, and other endurance activities. You may also do strength training (lifting weights, for example) to increase your muscular fitness.
  • Lifestyle Education - The program focuses on risk factor reduction, and is individualized for each patient. A standard program could involve the following: weight loss, smoking cessation, cholesterol reduction, nutrition counseling and stress management. There is a strong emphasis on behavior modifications that incorporate heart healthy practices into your lifestyle.
  • Support - Although it may be difficult to start a cardiac rehabilitation program when you're not feeling well , you'll benefit in the long run. Cardiac rehabilitation can guide you through fear and anxiety as you return to an active lifestyle, with more motivation and energy to do the things you enjoy. At cardiac rehabilitation you will also find support from many other individuals who are also recovering from a heart problem

Who is eligible?

Cardiac rehabilitation is an option for people of all ages who have heart problems such as:

  • Heart attack
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart failure
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Chest pain (angina)
  • Coronary artery bypass surgery
  • Angioplasty and stents
  • Heart transplant
  • Heart valve replacements

Will Insurance Cover It?

While the cost of Phase 2 cardiac rehabilitation is generally covered by your insurance policy, we recommend calling your insurance provider to find out the details.

How long does cardiac rehabilitation last?

The length of the program depends on individual's needs, goals and objectives, and insurance coverage. Typically, the Phase 2 program lasts up 16 weeks with participants coming to cardiac rehabilitation two to three times per week for about an hour.

Is it cardiac rehabilitation safe?

The risks of a heart attack during cardiac rehabilitation are small, and are greatly reduced by careful, continuous monitoring of the patient. In fact, the risk of NOT doing cardiac rehabilitation is a much greater risk than the risk of doing cardiac rehabilitation. While the outcome of the cardiac rehabilitation program depends on a number of factors, almost all patients who complete the program will increase their level of physical activity and be able to return to the workforce and/or other daily activities.

How do I get started?

Often, but not always, your doctor will refer you to cardiac rehabilitation before you leave the hospital. As part of the referral, you will be scheduled for a time to come visit cardiac rehabilitation. Speak to your doctor if you have recently experienced a heart problem and did not receive a referral to cardiac rehabilitation.

What Happens After Cardiac Rehabilitation?

After Phase 2 of cardiac rehabilitation, you'll need to continue your new diet and exercise habits for the rest of your life to maintain the heart health benefits. We offer a Phase 3, long-term maintenance program to help provide you with support after you have completed Phase 2. Participants in Phase 3 exercise independently with staff members present for questions and concerns. This is a self-pay program and is not covered by insurance.

For more information, call 804-847-4514.


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