A heart attack can be a frightening experience. Still, many people who’ve had a heart attack go on to enjoy full lives.
As part of your recovery, your doctor may recommend cardiac rehabilitation after a heart attack.
Physical therapy is an important part of the cardiac rehabilitation process. It might help you:
lower your risk of having another heart attack
improve your quality of life
increase your cardiovascular fitness
Read on to learn more about how physical therapy can help you recover from a heart attack and what to expect during cardiac rehabilitation.
What is cardiac physical therapy?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anybody who has had a heart problem, like a heart attack, can benefit from cardiac rehabilitation. Most programs last about 3 months, but they can last anywhere from 2 to 8 months.
A cardiac rehabilitation program consists of:
exercise counseling and training
education for managing risk factors
counseling to reduce stress
Staying physically active after a heart attack is important for keeping your heart strong. Research from 2018 has found that increased physical activity in the first year after a heart attack is related to a reduced chance of death.
What are the benefits of cardiac physical therapy?
Research has found that cardiac rehabilitation can:
improve your health-related quality of life and functional capacity
lower your risk of future heart attack
improve your lung capacity
improve your heart health
strengthen your heart and body
help you maintain a moderate body weight
improve your blood pressure
improve your mental health
improve your ability to work
reduce your body pain
help you reduce stress
improve your energy and endurance
improve your exercise, dietary, and lifestyle habits
Cardiac rehabilitation isn’t just for heart attacks
Physical therapy and cardiac rehabilitation are an important part of the recovery for many types of heart surgery or cardiac events. Rehabilitation can help you bounce back from:
heart valve surgery
coronary artery bypass
chronic stable angina
acute coronary artery syndrome
What is the outlook after cardiac rehabilitation?
Attending cardiac rehabilitation gives you the best chance to maintain a high quality of life and prevent another heart attack.
A 2021 review indicates that participants may have a 13 percent lower chance of having another heart attack.
A 2016 study found that in a group of 4,929 people who experienced heart attacks, people who underwent cardiac rehabilitation lived significantly longer.
Studies have found that cardiac rehabilitation decreases your chances of dying in the 5 years after a cardiac event from any cause by about 32 percent.
Talk with your doctor about how cardiac rehabilitation can improve your recovery after a heart attack.
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