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Cardiac rehab’s an investment in heart health

Man using a rowing machine - Cardiac rehab
The goal of cardiac rehab is to get you safely exercising for the rest of your life.

If you have heart surgery or a cardiac event, your cardiologist may recommend a cardiac rehabilitation program as part of your recovery.

And definitely sign up.

Cardiac rehab provides education and counseling services to heart patients, tailored to their individual needs and abilities. The focus is to get you safely exercising for the rest of your life.

Benefits of exercise

“The American Heart Association recommends regular exercise for treating and preventing certain heart diseases,” said Dr. Shereif Rezkalla, a Marshfield Clinic cardiologist. “While the more exercise you can perform is good, any exercise is good for you.”

After a heart attack or other major cardiac event, many people are reluctant to exercise for fear of triggering another event. He explained the rehab staff closely monitors exercise to help you confidently recover.

Reduce future heart problem risk

A cardiac rehab program usually is 12 weeks long. During that time, you typically exercise three days each week for about an hour each day, in addition to meeting with a nutritionist. At the end of the program, you will have better overall fitness. Most important, rehab can help reduce the risk of future heart problems.

“After you’ve had a cardiac event or procedure, cardiac exercise is even more important,” Rezkalla said. “We have organized cardiac rehab programs that tailor personalized programs with heart monitoring during exercise. Cardiac rehab has significant benefits with patients feeling better and living longer.”

Cardiac rehab is just as important as medicines like beta blockers or statins to reduce death rates after a heart attack. Surprisingly, though, nationally less than 13 percent of those who are eligible for rehab take part.

Check your health insurance since many most likely will cover cardiac rehab program costs.

2 responses to “Cardiac rehab’s an investment in heart health”

  1. Marilyn Janke

    As a person with a past medical history of heart attack, and quintuple open heart surgery 7 months ago, I am very interested in knowing the proper amount and kind of exercise. I participated in the hospital cardiac rehab until my surgeon okayed my going to the Y.
    I have a healthy diet , exercise for 30-40 minutes at the Ymca 3 times per week (tread mill, exercise bike and rowing machine) and am looking to start lap swimming a couple of times per week. I have just started a basic free weight exercise program with very light weights.

    Is this appropriate both for health and weight loss? What else is okay and how much? Biking? Hiking?

    1. Kirsten Shakal, Shine365 Editor

      Hi, Marilyn. I talked to Dr. Rezkalla about your question on health and weight loss. We cannot provide individualized medical advice on this forum, so it is good you had this conversation with your doctor and that he approved your exercise at The Y. For anyone, adding biking or hiking to an exercise routine aligns with good health, but all should consult with their doctor before adding strenuous exercise programs.

      Dr. Rezkalla also agrees that your current routine is healthy, but that diet is a broad word. "How many calories you eat a day depend on your goal of weight loss. It is better to consult with a dietitian," he said.

      I hope this helps, and thanks for reading. -Kirstie

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