Harvard Men's Health Watch

Put your heart in the right place

Cardiac rehabilitation can speed recovery from heart-related surgery and lower the risk of heart attack and stroke.


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Cardiac rehab programs are designed for patients who have recovered from a recent heart attack or heart failure, or who have undergone surgery for a heart valve, coronary artery bypass, pacemaker, or stent. They are also helpful for people diagnosed as having a high risk for cardiovascular disease.

"Patients often do well in the programs, and they definitely can improve recovery and future heart health," says Dr. Pradeep Natarajan, a cardiologist with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. "Yet, many providers don't offer rehab, and most patients don't know about it."

How cardiac rehab works

Most cardiac rehab involves up to 36 sessions, two or three times a week. The hour-long sessions incorporate exercise, nutrition counseling, medication management, smoking cessation, lifestyle analysis, and psychological services to help with depression, stress, and anxiety.

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