What is cardiac rehabilitation?
Cardiac rehabilitation, also known as cardiac rehab, is an exercise and education program that supports you while you’re recovering from a heart procedure or problem. This service has been proven to keep patients alive and out of hospital - and it’s a very important step on your road to recovery.
Cardiac rehab encourages you to make lifestyle changes that help your heart to heal and become stronger - which means you can live a healthier, better quality of life. In cardiac rehab, you’ll receive:
- Support by a team of healthcare professionals – which may include a doctor, nurse, dietitian, physiotherapist or exercise physiologist, occupational therapist, social worker, psychologist or pharmacist
- A health program – In consultation with your cardiac rehab team you will be provided with a program to best suit your individual needs and health goals
- You can also receive information and support in a variety of ways - including face-to-face meetings, phone calls and online programs
To find out more about cardiac rehabilitation and it benefits, you can watch this video
Who should take part in cardiac rehabilitation?
Cardiac rehab is recommended for you if you have had:
- Coronary artery disease
- Coronary angioplasty or stenting
- Coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABGS)
- Heart failure
- Heart transplant
- Heart valve surgery
- An implantable device such as an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)
What are the benefits of cardiac rehabilitation?
A cardiac rehab program will help to:
- Reduce your chance of dying from heart disease
- Ensure you don’t have to go back to hospital
- Encourage your family and friends to understand your condition and how they can help you
- Keep your weight at a healthy level
- Encourage you to exercise regularly and quit smoking
- Make you feel hopeful and better about yourself
- Enable you to understand your heart disease and your own treatment plan
What happens in cardiac rehabilitation?
At the beginning of your program, a member of your healthcare professional team will talk to you about your heart health. They’ll ask you questions about your condition, treatment, medications, daily activities, job and family to understand your unique needs and design a program that’s best for you.
In your program, you’ll learn about:
- Exercising safely - find out more in this video
- Quitting smoking - find out more in this video
- Understanding your heart disease and your risk factors - find out more in this video
- How to get back to your daily activities, such as work, hobbies and travel - find out more in this video
- Your medications - watch this video to find out more
- Healthy eating - find out more in this video
- Managing your emotions and any psychological issues - find out more in this video
Your program could take place in a hospital, community centre or at home. You might also find that some of your rehab sessions are held during the day, while others are held in the evenings.
A typical cardiac rehab program usually last between 6 and 10 weeks.
How do I find a cardiac rehabilitation program?
The best way to find a cardiac rehab program is to ask your healthcare team. They’ll be able to help you enrol in a program near you. In most cases, a cardiac rehab coordinator will visit you while you’re in hospital and give you a referral to your closest cardiac rehabilitation facility. You’ll then need to book in to the program as soon as you leave the hospital.
You can also visit the National Heart Foundation Cardiac Rehabilitation page for details about how to find a cardiac rehab program near you. You can also find out more about the St Vincent’s Hospital Cardiac Rehabilitation program.
Remember, heart disease has no cure. It’s a lifelong condition that needs ongoing management and attention - and a cardiac rehab program can help you give your health the attention it deserves so you can live an active and fulfilling life.