Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date. This handout provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. 

brand logo

Am Fam Physician. 2009;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

American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation

American Heart Association

Continue Reading

More in AFP

Copyright © 2009 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP.  See permissions for copyright questions and/or permission requests.