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Cardiac rehabilitation

Cardiac rehab; Heart attack - cardiac rehab; Coronary heart disease - cardiac rehab; Coronary artery disease - cardiac rehab; Angina - cardiac rehab; Heart failure - cardiac rehab

Cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) is a program that helps you live better with heart disease. It is often prescribed to help you recover from a heart attack, heart surgery, or other procedures, or if you have heart failure.

These programs most often include both education and exercise. The goal of cardiac rehab is to:

I Would Like to Learn About:

Who Needs Rehab

Cardiac rehab can help anyone who has had a heart attack or other heart problem. You might consider cardiac rehab if you have had:

In some cases, your health care provider may refer you to rehab if you have had a heart attack or heart surgery. If your provider does not mention rehab, you can ask if it might help you.

Benefits of Cardiac Rehab

Cardiac rehab may help you:

What to Expect

You will work with a rehab team that may include many kinds of medical professionals including:

Your rehab team will design a program that is safe for you. Before you start, the team will assess your overall health. A provider will do an exam and may ask you questions about your health and medical history. You may also have some tests to check your heart.

Most rehab programs last from 3 to 6 months. Your program may be longer or shorter depending on your condition.

Most rehab programs cover several different areas:

Choosing a Program

If you are in the hospital, your rehab program may start while you are there. Once you go home, you will likely go to a rehab center in your area. It might be in:

Your provider may refer you to a rehab center, or you might need to choose one yourself. When choosing a rehab center, keep a few things in mind:

If you cannot get to a rehab center, you may have a form of rehab you do in your home.


Anderson L, Taylor RS. Cardiac rehabilitation for people with heart disease: an overview of Cochrane systematic reviews. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;12:CD011273. PMID: 25503364

Balady GJ, Ades PA, Bittner VA, et al. Referral, enrollment, and delivery of cardiac rehabilitation/secondary prevention programs at clinical centers and beyond: A presidential advisory from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2011;124(25):2951-2960. PMID: 22082676

Balady GJ, Williams MA, Ades PA, et al. Core components of cardiac rehabilitation/secondary prevention programs: 2007 Update: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association Exercise, Cardiac Rehabilitation, and Prevention Committee, the Council on Clinical Cardiology; the councils on Cardiovascular Nursing, Epidemiology and Prevention, and Nutrition, Physical activity, and Metabolism; and the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. J Cardiopulm Rehabil Prev. 2007;27(3):121-129. PMID: 17558191

Smith SC Jr, Benjamin EJ, Bonow RO, et al. AHA/ACCF secondary prevention and risk reduction therapy for patients with coronary and other atherosclerotic vascular disease: 2011 update: a guideline from the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology Foundation. Circulation. 2011;124(22):2458-2473. PMID: 22052934

Thompson PD, Ades PA. Exercise-based, comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation. In: Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Tomaselli GF, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2019:chap 54.


Review Date: 2/22/2018  

Reviewed By: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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