Heart health is one of the more important aspects of overall health, given the vital nature of the heart. When a person suffers from a heart-related problem, or is at risk of one, cardiac rehabilitation is an important part of that person's return to a normal and healthy life. The overriding goal of cardiac rehabilitation is to slow the progression of heart disease and related problems, and ideally to reverse them. For this, patients undergo cardiac rehabilitation in a way that is supervised by their doctor in order to have the best chance of success.
At one time, it was generally thought that cardiac rehabilitation was best suited for younger patients, and that it was either too strenuous or of too little benefit for older patients. This mode of thinking has been changing, however, as it is being found that cardiac rehabilitation holds benefits for a wide range of people. When a rehabilitation program is properly supervised, it can bring improvement to those who have recently suffered a heart attack or had coronary bypass surgery, as well as those with congestive heart failure or angina, which is characterized by heart-related chest pain and is a warning sign for heart attack risk.
Those who have undergone an angioplasty or have had a pacemaker implanted are among the others who can benefit from cardiac rehabilitation, as are those with other circulatory problems, such as peripheral artery disease. An exercise regimen is almost always included as a part of rehabilitation. Depending on the condition of the patient's heart, he may need to have his heart rate and other vital signs monitored during exercise, to avoid pushing the heart too hard in a weakened condition.
As beneficial as complete cardiac rehabilitation can be, it is not appropriate for everyone, even if they have one or more of the indications described above. The option of a managed rehab program should be thoroughly considered with your physician before beginning one. It may be decided, for example, that a patient's heart is as yet too unstable to include exercise as part of a rehab program.
If strenuous exercise is not deemed appropriate, there are still many other things that can be done. Foremost on the list is the reduction of risk factors such as smoking, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. The treatment or elimination of these risk factors alone can make a significant positive difference. Counseling regarding proper nutrition, and simple emotional support can also be part of a cardiac rehabilitation program, no matter what else is included.