Harvard Heart Letter

Don't skip cardiac rehab after a heart event

Photos: Thinkstock

Cardiac rehab cuts death risk and improves lives.

If you had a serious heart problem and there was an extremely safe, proven treatment to reduce risk factors for heart disease—and if it was covered by Medicare and most health insurance plans—would you take it?

An expert medical association calculates that only 14% to 35% of heart attack survivors and only 31% of bypass patients get it. Some never hear about it from their doctors. Others—older women in particular—tend not to use it, even when their doctors prescribe it.

It's called cardiac rehabilitation. And it may not be what you think it is, says Dr. Daniel Forman, director of the exercise testing lab at Brigham and Women's Hospital and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School.

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