Exercising after heart surgery

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Q. I recently had bypass surgery and am starting to feel back to normal. I want to start exercising again, but my internist says I should be careful not to get my heart rate too high. What are reasonable guidelines for how hard I should exercise?

A. Your best bet for a getting a personalized answer to this question is to attend cardiac rehabilitation. Cardiac rehab is a medically supervised, customized exercise and lifestyle education program that helps people recover after a heart attack or heart surgery. It can also be useful for people with heart failure or peripheral artery disease (blockages in the leg arteries) and after other heart surgeries (such as a valve replacement) and angioplasty and stent procedures. Most cardiac rehab programs include hourlong sessions two to three times a week for 12 weeks. Medicare covers cardiac rehab, as do most health insurance plans.

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