Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit, the AAFP patient education website.

Information from Your Family Doctor

Cardiac Rehabilitation


Am Fam Physician. 2009 Nov 1;80(9):960.

  See related article on cardiac rehabilitation.

What is cardiac rehabilitation?

Cardiac rehabilitation (REE-huh-BILL-uh-TAY-shun) is a program for patients with heart disease. Its goal is to limit (or reverse) damage to the heart and improve quality of life.

How do I know if it is right for me?

It can help you get better after you have a heart attack, heart surgery, or a procedure to open a clogged artery. It also could help you if you have heart failure, an artificial heart valve, or if the blood vessels in your arms or legs are blocked. Cardiac rehabilitation can help make your heart stronger and improve your ability to exercise.

What should I look for in a program?

Cardiac rehabilitation should help improve your overall health and wellness. Programs should include exercise therapy, and also help you quit smoking, reach or stay at a healthy weight, and eat better. If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, a good program will help improve these conditions. Many patients are depressed after having a heart attack or heart surgery. A good program also will include ways to help improve depression and well-being. Your program should make sure your treatment plan considers any medicines you may be taking, which may help to adjust your target heart rate for exercise.

Where can I get more information?

Your family doctor

American Academy of Family Physicians

Web site:

American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Web site (to find a program):

Telephone: (312) 321-5146

American Heart Association

Web site:

This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.


Copyright © 2009 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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