Cardiac Rehabilitation

What is Cardiac Rehabilitation?

Cardiac rehabilitation is designed to help you get back to as full a life as possible after a cardiac event such as a heart attack, angioplasty, heart surgery or other heart conditions.

The aims of cardiac rehabilitation are:

  • to help you protect your heart in the future;
  • to provide you with information and support in making lifestyle changes that
    will improve some of your risk factors for heart disease;
  • to increase your fitness, confidence and sense of well being,
  • to give you regular contact with specialist staff who can assist with questions or concerns you may have about your recovery.

The cardiac rehabilitation exercise sessions are designed to help you gain the skills and confidence to use these principles when exercising at home.

You will attend a cardiac rehabilitation exercise session each week. You will also be encouraged and advised to participate in some form of exercise at home on most days of the week.

The nurse will check your blood pressure and heart rate before each exercise session to give us a reading to compare at the end of the session and to ensure it is safe for you to exercise.

Warm Up (15 minutes).
It is important before any exercise that you prepare the body by doing a warm up session. This reduces the stress on the heart and muscles by slowly increasing your breathing, circulation (pulse rate and blood pressure) and body temperature through moving your large muscle groups (legs and arms) and joints. This will also help improve flexibility and reduce muscle soreness.

Conditioning (the exercise circuit in the rehabilitation class).
This follows the warm up. This should last 20 to 30 minutes. You should aim to maintain a consistent pace and awareness of your Borg level throughout. During the exercise circuit, the benefits of exercise are gained and calories are burned. It is important that you monitor how hard you are exercising (check your pulse rate and borg scale). Do not overdo it.

Cool Down (10 minutes).
The last part of your exercise session allows the body to gradually recover. It includes movement of a lower effort level and gentle stretches of the large muscle groups. Your heart rate and blood pressure should return to its normal (resting) level. You should not stop exercising suddenly as this may cause you to feel dizzy, lightheaded or have heart palpitations (fluttering in the chest). The nurse or physio will check your heart rate at the end of the cool down to check whether your heart has recovered from the exercise. Ideally within 10 to 20 beats of your normal (resting) heart rate.

When you finish your rehabilitation programme it is important for you to continue exercising regularly. There are lots of ways to do this. Think about whether you wish to continue with group sessions at a leisure or community centre, join a gym or continue with your own exercise plan.

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