The goal of
cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) is to help you reestablish and maintain
a healthy, active lifestyle after a major heart problem, such as a heart attack
or heart surgery, or if you have a long-term heart condition. Rehab can help you return to
work, resume recreational and other activities, and resume a normal sex
To keep getting the benefits of cardiac rehab, you will have to
continue to exercise and follow the healthy lifestyle changes you've learned.
Exercise and lifestyle changes. Although exercise is a significant part of cardiac rehab, lifestyle
changes combined with exercise may be more important than exercise alone in
keeping your heart healthy. Staying with your program can give you the support
you need to make these changes a permanent part of your life and may help
reduce the risk of further serious heart problems.
Getting back to work. After you have a heart problem (such as a heart attack or
heart surgery), cardiac rehab can help you return to work safely. How quickly you
can return to work depends on how bad your heart problem is and how much
physical activity your job requires. Your rehab program might include job or vocational counseling.
Resuming sex. You or your
partner may be worried that you will have symptoms such as chest pain or will
not have enough energy for sex. Sharing your concerns and fears about having
sex is important for both partners. Both partners need to feel ready to restart
having sex. Ask your doctor or a member of your rehab team when it's safe for you to have sex.
Managing stress. Stress management
may lower the risk of serious heart problems, such as heart attacks. People who
do not deal well with anger and frustration may have a higher risk of
coronary artery disease. Learning to manage stress is
often part of programs to help you make positive changes in your
Seeking treatment for depression. Depression is often overlooked, especially in older
adults, but commonly occurs after a serious heart problem. Depression can make
it difficult for you to have the energy to perform some of the cardiac rehab
programs. If you feel you suffer from symptoms of depression, make sure you
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
John A. McPherson, MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology
September 27, 2012