WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS AND RISKS OF CARDIAC REHAB?
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.
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.