Harvard Heart Letter

Cardiac rehab after a heart attack

Cardiac rehabilitation—a customized exercise and lifestyle education program that helps people recover after a heart attack—has been linked to higher survival rates. New research finds that cardiac rehab can also lower your odds of needing a long-term hospital stay. The study, published in the July American Journal of Medicine, tracked nearly 3,000 people in a Minnesota county who had a heart attack between 1987 and 2010. Just over half attended a cardic rehab program. Those who attended cardiac rehab were 25% less likely to be readmitted to the hospital for any reason and were 42% less likely to die during the study than those who didn't go to rehab. As in earlier studies, women and elderly people were just as likely to benefit from cardiac rehab as their younger male counterparts, but they were less likely to be referred by their doctors and less likely to attend.

If you are recovering from a heart attack, or recently had one, and your doctor hasn't asked you to enroll in a cardiac rehab program, ask him or her if you should be in such a program.

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