Cardiac Rehabilitation

Heart Disease

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS AND RISKS OF CARDIAC REHAB?

Benefits

Cardiac rehab has many benefits. It can:

  • Reduce your overall chance of dying, the chance of future heart problems, and the chance of dying from a heart attack
  • Decrease pain and the need for medicines to treat heart or chest pain
  • Lessen the chance that you will have to go back to the hospital or emergency room for a heart problem
  • Improve your overall health by decreasing the risk factors for heart problems
  • Improve the quality of your life and make it easier to work, participate in social activities, and exercise

People who attend cardiac rehab on a regular basis also reduce stress, become more independent, and prevent disability.

People who receive help for their emotional health and also start an exercise program can improve their overall health. They can lower their blood pressure and heart rate. They also can lower their LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and raise their HDL (“good”) cholesterol. These people are less likely to die or have another heart attack.

Treatment for emotional health also can help some people quit smoking.

Risks

The lifestyle changes that you make during cardiac rehab have few risks.

At first, physical activity is safer in the rehab setting than at home. Members of the rehab team are trained and have experience teaching people with heart problems how to exercise.

Your rehab team will watch you to make sure you’re safe. They will check your blood pressure several times during your exercise training. They also may use an EKG (electrocardiogram) to see how your heart reacts and adapts to exercise. After some training, most people learn to exercise safely at home.

Very rarely, physical activity during rehab causes serious problems. These problems may include injuries to your muscles and/or bones, or heart rhythm problems that can lead to death or recurrent heart attack.

Your rehab team will tell you about signs and symptoms of possible problems to watch for while exercising at home. If you notice these signs and symptoms, you should stop the activity and contact your doctor.

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Heart Failure: Should I Get a Pacemaker (Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy)?

Heart Disease

Decision Point

You may want to have a say in this decision, or you may simply want to follow your doctor’s recommendation. Either way, this information will help you understand what your choices are so that you can talk to your doctor about them.

Heart Failure: Should I Get a Pacemaker (Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy)?

Get the facts

Your options

  • Get a pacemaker for heart failure.
  • Don’t get a pacemaker for heart failure.

A pacemaker for heart failure is used for cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT). This type of pacemaker is different from pacemakers used to treat other heart rhythm problems, such as atrial fibrillation and bradycardia. This topic is only about pacemakers for heart failure. You might hear it only called cardiac resynchronization therapy, or CRT.

Key points to remember

  • A pacemaker for heart failure, also called cardiac resynchronization therapy or CRT, can help you feel better so you can do your daily activities. It also may help keep you out of the hospital and help you live longer.
  • If you get a pacemaker, you still need to take medicines for heart failure. You’ll also need to follow a healthy lifestyle to help treat heart failure. This may include watching how much fluid you drink, eating healthy foods that are low in salt, and not smoking.
  • Heart experts have guidelines about who might need a pacemaker. Talk to your doctor about the reasons that you might need one. For example, a pacemaker may be a good choice if you have moderate or severe heart failure and your heart’s ventricles don’t pump at the same time.
  • A pacemaker sends electrical pulses to your heart to help it work better. You can’t feel the pulses.
  • There can be problems from having a pacemaker placed in your chest. The wires (called leads) that connect the pacemaker to your heart can move from the spot where they were placed. You could get an infection where the pacemaker was placed. Or the pacemaker or leads might not work.