Treatments and tests

Cardiac rehabilitation

Cardiac rehabilitation is a professionally supervised program to support you and your family or carers to manage your heart problems.

Programs can be run in several different ways and places. For example:

  • over the telephone
  • on the internet
  • face-to-face
  • in a group
  • in hospitals, community centres and clinics
  • in your home.

Although health professionals run these programs, a rehabilitation program won’t replace your regular visits to your doctor.

What does cardiac rehabilitation cover?

Cardiac rehabilitation supports you and your family, friends and carer/s in living with coronary heart disease. A rehabilitation program covers the various physical, emotional, psychological, sexual and work-related changes you may go through.

It can help you to better understand:

  • what coronary heart disease is
  • how it’s treated
  • what your risk factors are
  • the best ways to manage your risk factors
  • why you may feel fear, stress, depression and anxiety
  • why you have to take medicines
  • what medical tests and procedures you need
  • what to do in an emergency, including understanding the warning signs of a heart attack
  • how to do the practical things, like going back  to work, returning to driving, taking holidays and being sexually active
  • how to have a healthy lifestyle by eating well, being physically active and not smoking.

What are the benefits of cardiac rehabilitation?

Cardiac rehabilitation will help you to have a more satisfying life, make you feel better faster and help prevent further problems.

Some of the benefits of being in a program include:

  • knowing the warning signs of a heart attack
  • knowing how to respond quickly
  • getting back to your usual activities more quickly
  • increasing your social independence and confidence
  • reducing depression and anxiety
  • increasing your ability to be physically active
  • making you less likely to start smoking again, if you smoked before
  • increasing your social support and helping you meet other people in a similar situation.

Ask if you can bring your partner or carer along to your rehabilitation sessions. It can help your family, friends and carer/s understand what you have gone through and what you need to do to get better.

Finding a cardiac rehabilitation program

Ask your hospital or doctor to refer you to a cardiac rehabilitation program in your local area or call the Heart Foundation’s Health Information Service on 1300 36 27 87 (cost of a local call).

Where to get help

  • Always dial triple zero (000) to call an ambulance in a medical emergency
  • See your doctor
  • Visit healthdirect (external site) or call 1800 022 222
  • Phone the Heart Foundation Helpline on 13 11 12

The above information is extracted from My heart, my life: a manual for patients with coronary heart disease, and is used with the Heart Foundation’s permission. © 2012 National Heart Foundation of Australia.

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Heart Foundation

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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