These tips help you improve your health after a cardiac event.
If you’ve had a recent cardiac event, such as a heart attack or heart surgery, your doctor may recommend cardiac rehabilitation to help you regain your strength and improve your health. Cardiac rehab offers many benefits for your heart, your energy, your mood and your overall health. But in order to reap those benefits, it’s helpful to know how to make the most out of your cardiac rehabilitation experience.
“When I first went into cardiac rehab, I couldn’t lift anything and could hardly even walk,” said Adam Andrews, a heart attack survivor who is in the cardiac wellness program at Maury Regional Medical Center (MRMC). “Now, I’m walking at a fast pace and lifting heavier weights. With their help, I’ve been able to get myself to the best point I can. That’s great both physically and mentally.”
Andrews completed all three phases of the cardiac rehabilitation program at MRMC, which is certified by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. In the program, patients exercise under the supervision of a cardiologist while their heart activity is monitored. Exercise levels are gradually increased to help strengthen the heart.
Here are five tips that can help you fully benefit from cardiac rehab:
Understand what cardiac rehab is. Some people think of cardiac rehab as just a supervised exercise program, but it can be so much more. This program not only helps you regain your strength and stamina through physical activity, but it also provides education about how to live healthier in the short and long term. You may get tips for eating healthy foods, losing weight, quitting smoking, reducing stress, improving mental health and taking medication properly.
Make cardiac rehab a priority. The only way to benefit from a cardiac rehab program is to show up and do the work. Some people find it difficult to fit multiple sessions a week in their busy schedules. But since cardiac rehab can be so beneficial to your health, it’s worth making it a priority. Find a way to get to your sessions. It’s also important to make time to do the things you’ll learn, such as shopping for healthier foods or taking time to unwind and de-stress.
Learn as much as you can. Your cardiac rehab team has likely helped many people regain their health after a cardiac event so they’re a great resource for any questions you may have. Learn about your condition, what lifestyle changes can help you prevent a future problem, what your limits are (and what you can do that you may think you can’t) and why it’s important to take medications as prescribed. Also, ask about symptoms to watch for that may indicate a returning health issue.
Set realistic goals. One of the best ways to successfully make changes in your life is to set realistic goals. Work together with your rehab team to come up with goals that are attainable and safe for you. After each goal you reach, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and that will likely push you to set new goals.
Do the work on your own. It’s important to show up and do the activities recommended during your sessions. But it’s equally important to do the work of staying healthier when you’re on your own. This goes for what you do between cardiac rehab sessions as well as what you do once the program is over. After you complete the program, consider other ways to continue in a supervised or group exercise program to keep you motivated. Exercising on your own and following the other healthy lifestyle habits you’ve learned will also help to keep you healthier.
For more information on MRMC’s cardiac rehabilitation program and other heart services, visit MauryRegional.com/heart. MRMC is recognized as a Chest Pain Center with PCI by the American College of Cardiology and holds certification in the treatment of heart failure from The Joint Commission.
“The nurses and everyone at MRH have been great,” Andrews said. “I can’t speak highly enough about the care they’ve given me through this process.”
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Date Last Reviewed: December 13, 2022
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor