What is cardiac rehabilitation?
Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised programme designed to improve your cardiovascular health if you have experienced heart attack, heart failure or other heart problem that required surgery or medical care.
Cardiac rehabilitation usually involves 3 components:
- Physiotherapy (exercise counselling and training). Exercise gets your heart pumping and your entire cardiovascular system working. You will learn from our physiotherapists safe ways on how to get your body moving to promote heart health.
- Education about healthy living. Lifestyle factors such as smoking, drinking alcohol, a diet high in fat and lack of exercise are major contributing causes to heart diseases. We equip you with the knowledge to modify your lifestyle and make heart-healthy choices.
- Counselling to reduce stress. Stress and anxiety are bad for your heart. Studies have found that up to 15% of patients with cardiovascular disease and up to 20% of patients who have undergone coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery experience major depression. You will learn to identify and tackle everyday sources of stress and improve your psychological and emotional well-being.
Our multidisciplinary team of medical professionals including cardiologists, nurse educators, dietitians, counsellors and occupational therapists will work with you to get you back to the best of heart health.
Why do you need cardiac rehabilitation?
Our cardiac rehabilitation programme can help you:
- Regain strength
- Prevent your heart condition from worsening
- Reduce your risk of future heart problems
- Improve your health and quality of life
- Reduce your risk of death from heart disease
When do you need cardiac rehabilitation?
You may benefit from a cardiac rehabilitation programme if you have recovered from cardiomyopathy (heart attack or heart failure) or heart surgery.
Who should not undergo cardiac rehabilitation?
Cardiac rehabilitation may not be suitable for everyone with heart disease. Your doctor will need to do the following to make sure you are ready to start a cardiac rehabilitation program:
- Review your medical history
- Conduct a physical examination
- Perform relevant tests
What are the risks and complications of cardiac rehabilitation?
Some people may suffer injuries, such as strained muscles or sprains, while exercising as a part of cardiac rehabilitation.
There is also a small risk of cardiovascular complications.
How do you prepare for cardiac rehabilitation?
Ask your doctor about joining a cardiac rehabilitation programme if you had a heart attack, heart surgery or another heart condition.
Our cardiac rehabilitation team will work with you to set goals for your cardiac rehabilitation programme and design a programme that meets your needs.
You can start your cardiac rehabilitation while you are still in the hospital or as an outpatient (home-based programme).
What can you expect in a cardiac rehabilitation programme?
A cardiac rehabilitation programme will usually include the following:
Our cardiac rehabilitation team will do a medical evaluation of you that includes:
- Your physical ability
- Your medical limitations
- Other existing medical conditions you may have
- Your risk factors for heart complications, especially during exercise
Our cardiac rehabilitation team will work on improving your cardiovascular fitness through physical activity. They may suggest low impact activities that have a lower risk of injury, such as:
You will be advised on the frequency of exercise as well as proper exercise techniques, such as warming up and cooling down before an activity.
You may also be asked to do muscle-strengthening exercises, such as lifting weights or other resistance training exercises, to increase your muscular fitness.
If you have never exercised before, our cardiac rehabilitation team will make sure the programme moves at a comfortable pace that is safe for you.
Education about living a healthy lifestyle
Our cardiac rehabilitation team will provide you support and education on making healthy lifestyle changes, such as:
- Eating a heart-healthy diet
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Quitting smoking
- Managing conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity
Counselling and support
It is normal to feel anxious or depressed when you are experiencing a serious health problem like cardiovascular disease. Give yourself time to adjust and stay connected to your social support system. You may also need to take some time off work to recover.
Do not ignore your depression. It can affect your cardiac rehabilitation progress and have repercussions on other areas of your life, such as your relationships and overall health.
Our cardiac rehabilitation team will help you learn healthy ways to cope with anxiety, stress, depression and other negative feelings.
You may also be provided occupational therapy to teach you skills that will help you cope when you return home or to work.