Cardiac rehabilitation exercise programs are safe and helpful. Exercise helps you return to your normal life. But there is a small risk of complications.Reference 1
If you have a health problem that makes exercise unsafe, your rehab will not include an exercise program. These health problems include:
- Reference Unstable angina Opens New Window.
- Uncontrolled Reference high blood pressure Opens New Window or low blood pressure.
- Reference Heart rhythm problems Opens New Window.
- Severe Reference heart failure Opens New Window.
- Uncontrolled Reference diabetes Opens New Window.
Even if you can't exercise or be active, you will benefit from other parts of a cardiac rehab program. For example, you can get help with quitting smoking and reducing stress. And you can get advice on how to eat a heart-healthy diet. This type of education can lower the risk of heart-related death.
Safety and your rehab team
After having a heart attack or surgery or discovering you have heart disease, you may be afraid to exercise or be active. You may worry that exercise will cause another heart attack or that you aren't strong enough for a cardiac rehab program.
It may ease your fears to know that as you begin your rehab, your doctor will monitor your activity closely and health professionals will be on hand to deal with any problems you may have. Your rehab team will tailor all of your exercises specifically for you, based on your medical condition and overall health. All cardiac rehab begins slowly at a comfortable pace and may be as gentle as walking on a treadmill.
If you are worried or afraid to be active again, talk to your doctor. Exercise and activity can greatly improve the quality of your life.
Tell your doctor and other health professionals on your rehab team about all of the medicines you are taking, especially if they cause any side effects during exercise. Reference Medicines may also affect your ability to participate in cardiac rehab. Some prescribed medicines can change your heart rate, blood pressure, and overall ability to exercise.
Watch for symptoms
When you exercise, be sure that you are aware of signs and symptoms that mean that you should stop exercising and contact your doctor.
Your ability to identify how your body is responding to exercise and what physical conditions are normal is necessary for your rehabilitation. It is important that you monitor specific physical information to be aware not only of your improvement but also of possible complications. If you have any other physical or medical concerns such as the flu, backache, or knee pain, it is best that you put off exercising until the problem passes. You should seek medical advice if it does not.
Your rehab team might ask you to be aware of:
- How you feel.
- Your heart rate.
- Your blood pressure.
Know when to call a doctor
Call 911 or other emergency services if you have symptoms of a:
Reference Heart attack Opens New Window.
- Chest pain or pressure, or a strange feeling in the chest.
- Shortness of breath.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Pain, pressure, or a strange feeling in the back, neck, jaw, or upper belly, or in one or both shoulders or arms.
- Lightheadedness or sudden weakness.
- A fast or irregular heartbeat.
Reference Stroke Opens New Window.
- Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of movement in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
- Sudden vision changes.
- Sudden trouble speaking.
- Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.
- Sudden problems with walking or balance.
- A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.
Call your doctor right away if any of the following symptoms last for more than a few minutes before, during, or after your exercise session:
- Any unusual discomfort, such as Reference angina Opens New Window symptoms like chest pain or discomfort
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Extremely heavy breathing
- Severe fatigue
- Extreme sweating
- Abnormal changes in
heart rate, including either of the following:
- Unexplained low heart rate, or
- Dramatically higher heart rate than is typical for you
- Abnormal blood pressure, including any of the
- Drop in systolic blood pressure
- Failure of systolic blood pressure to rise
- Excessive blood pressure (over 240/100 millimeters of mercury, or mm Hg)
- Blood sugar below 80 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or above 250 mg/dL
Check your weight
Your doctor may ask you to weigh yourself regularly, maybe every day. This helps you watch for sudden weight gain, which could be a sign of a problem.
Call your doctor if you notice a sudden weight gain. Your doctor may tell you how much weight to watch for. But in general, call your doctor if you gain 3 lb (1.4 kg) or more in 2 to 3 days.
Weigh yourself on the same scale with the same amount of clothing at the same time of day. The best time may be soon after you get up in the morning, but after you go to the bathroom. This way, your measurements are consistent and accurate. You may want to keep a diary of your weight.
If you have heart failure or have just had open-heart surgery, monitoring your weight is especially important. People who have heart failure must watch for a sudden weight gain, which points to fluid retention and heart failure that is getting worse. People who have had open-heart surgery must also watch for sudden weight gain/fluid retention that could mean a complication of the surgery.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference September 27, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Reference John A. McPherson, MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology