Harvard Heart Letter

Women: Cardiac rehab key to recovery

So why don't more take advantage of it after a heart attack?

Cardiac rehabilitation is recommended for both men and women after a heart attack or coronary artery bypass surgery, Through a structured, multi-week program that promotes supervised exercise, proper medication use, and a healthy lifestyle, the cardiovascular system recovers and stamina returns. People feel better, are able to do more, and are less likely to become bedridden or to die from heart disease.

But far fewer women than men take advantage of cardiac rehab. This disturbs Dr. Daniel Forman, director of cardiac rehabilitation at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. "It's not logical, because research suggests cardiac rehabilitation may provide even greater benefit to women than men. Middle-aged and older women are particularly likely to benefit," he says.

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