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7 things to know about cardiac rehab


If you have a heart problem, cardiac rehab may be what's best for your ticker right now. Here's what you need to know about this program that may help you live better and longer.

1. It's an outpatient program. Cardiac rehab is a medically supervised program for people with heart problems. Participants exercise to get stronger, and they receive heart-healthy education, counseling and support.

2. Rehab could help keep you active and out of the hospital. It can help you resume favorite activities—like golfing or ballroom dancing—after a heart attack. And it may reduce your need for chest pain medicines, as well as cut your risk for future heart attacks, hospital stays and even early death.

3. Many people qualify. You may be a candidate if, for instance, you have or have had a heart attack, heart failure, coronary artery bypass surgery, heart-valve surgery, angioplasty, angina or coronary heart disease.

4. The exercises are safe. In rehab, the exercise is tailored to your needs. And it's monitored for your safety. For instance, you might exercise on a treadmill or a rowing machine to help improve your fitness level.

5. You'll learn to care for your ticker. Rehab participants learn healthy changes, such as eating right, quitting smoking and reducing stress.

6. You can ask for it. To find out if cardiac rehab is right for you, ask your doctor.

7. It's often covered by insurance. Medicare and many private insurance plans cover cardiac rehab.

Sources: American Heart Association; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

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