What is Cardiac Rehabilitation?
Cardiac rehabilitation is a way for people who have had bypass, valve replacement, transplant, or
other cardiac surgical procedures to get going again. A team of physicians, nurses, exercise
physiologists and nutritionists will help you feel well again by leading you through a rehab program
designed to fit your needs. There are four phases of cardiac rehabilitation.
Phase I begins early after a cardiac event, while you are still in the hospital. This phase
usually includes light supervised exercise such as walking the halls and stair climbing. Additional
education is provided by hospital nurses and physical therapists. You should ask the hospital staff
about risk factors, diet, medication instruction, sexual activity, exercise and normal life at home.
Phase II is the early outpatient phase of cardiac rehabilitation. This phase usually requires a
physician referral and involves telemetry monitoring. Entrance into the program is usually 2 to 6
weeks after discharge from the hospital. Most programs meet for one hour three or more times per
week for twelve weeks.
Phase II aims to return you to the normal active life and put you, not your heart condition, in
charge of your life.
The goals of Phase II are:
Education is a major emphasis in the Phase II program and is accomplished through individual or
group instruction. Educational topics include:
- Improve functional capacity and endurance
- Provide education of lifestyle changes
- Reduce fear and anxiety about increased activity or exercise
- Assist in making optimal social and psychological adjustments
Your spouse or other family members are encouraged to attend the education sessions with you.
- Medication review
- Lifestyle changes and goal setting
- Nutrition counseling with a registered dietitian
- Stress management
- Safe performance of activities including sexual activity, vocational and recreational pursuits
Phase III is a continuation of the Phase II program. As a general rule, Phase III programs
include participants who were discharged from the hospital 6 to 14 weeks earlier. A phsysician may
refer you directly into this program without Phase II participation.
The goals of Phase III are:
The program offers monitoring of heart rhythm, rate and blood pressure before, during and after
exercise. You are required to keep records of your exercise routines. These routines generally occur
three or more times per week.
- Provide an ongoing exercise program
- Offer support necessary to make lifestyle changes
- Achieve the desired goal, such as, independent lifestyle or return to work
- Prevent progression of heart disease
Phase IV is a wellness program for those who have completed any of the other phases. Phase IV
is a means to continue working on improving lifestyle changes. You exercise three or more times
per week with minimal staff supervision.
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