Cardiac Rehabilitation

What is cardiac rehabilitation?

Cardiac rehabilitation is an exercise therapy and education program designed to teach, support and encourage patients during recovery after heart surgery or from cardiac difficulties.

What treatment options are available?

After a thorough evaluation, a team of registered nurses and exercise specialists are assigned to work with the patient in developing an individualized plan of care, which recognizes all of the patient's needs and goals for the rehab process.

Cardiac rehabilitation is done on a heart monitor that shows an electrical tracing of the heart on a computer. This image is monitored by staff continuously during exercise sessions. Blood pressure is also monitored to ensure a safe exercise session. The exercise days are routinely on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. The program is designed to be two to three months long depending on the patient diagnosis. Physicians get monthly reports and end of program reports. Physicians are contacted for any problems or significant findings. Individual dietary counseling and classes on a heart-healthy diet are offered. Other classes include information on blood pressure, cholesterol, medications and resistance training to improve muscle tone and increase metabolism.

Baptist Health’s Cardiac Rehabilitation program is divided into three phases:

Phase I: Education

Phase I provides education about a variety of cardiac related issues, including:
  • Understanding Coronary Artery Disease
  • Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack/Angina
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Post-Bypass Discharge Information
  • Home Exercise Prescription
  • Cholesterol Management
  • Stress-Coping Strategies
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Risk Factor Control/Management

Phase II: Exercise Program

Phase II is designed as an outpatient program for people who need a monitored, physician-supervised exercise program. A majority of the cost for Phase II cardiac rehab programs are reimbursed by Medicare and a supplemental policy generally completes the reimbursement. Participating three times a week -- Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Patients benefit from the monitoring of heart rate, blood pressure and heart supervised exercise setting based on rhythm during exercise. The staff is trained to help patients begin and maintain a medically safe and effective exercise regimen and are equipped to deal with any emergencies that may arise. Education and cardiac health tips are also a major part of the outpatient program.
The following classes are offered:
  • Managing Risk Factors for Heart Disease
  • Low-Fat/Low-Cholesterol Diets
  • Benefits of Exercise
  • Understanding Cholesterol Levels
  • Stress Reduction
  • Anatomy and Procedures
  • Cardiac Medications
  • Heart Attack Signals and Actions
Computerized diet analysis and instructions are also offered and support groups for heart disease provide help when coping with heart problems.

Phase III: Healthy Hearts Program

Phase III is designed as an outpatient program for people who need a clinically-supervised exercise program. Phase III typically follows Phase II which helps the transition from the hospital to home. But some people might enter phase III right after they leave the hospital, or without first attending Phase II cardiac rehab. Phase III cardiac rehab programs are not reimbursed by Medicare or insurance companies. Healthy Hearts participants pay per month for membership fees. Participants are able to attend three times a week -- Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Patients are educated on how to monitor heart rate, blood pressure, and exercise progression. The staff is trained to help patients begin and advise patients on an appropriate exercise regimen and equipped are to deal with any emergencies that may arise. Healthy Hearts participants receive education and cardiac health tips that are also a major part of the outpatient program. 
The following classes are offered: 
  • Managing Risk Factors for Heart Disease 
  • Low-Fat/Low-Cholesterol Diets 
  • Benefits of Exercise 
  • Understanding Cholesterol Levels 
  • Stress Reduction 
  • Anatomy and Procedures 
  • Cardiac Medications 
  • Heart Attack Signals and Actions

What are the patient outcomes?

The best advocates for the care you can expect from Baptist Health are the patients themselves. Hear these patients' success stories.

Brandon Reed, Cardiac Rehab Patient (2:47)

Brandon's heart defect was anything but a setback. Hear his story. 

Cliff O’Neal, Cardiac Rehab Patient (4:31)

Even with Cliff exercising on his own, he was having continuing heart problems. Baptist Health’s cardiac rehab has been able to educate him about how to strengthen his heart properly and increase his overall energy and stamina. Hear his story.

Robert Bennett, Cardiac Rehab Patient 

Linda and Robert Bennett’s trip to the emergency room created its share of worry; especially after it turned out to be a bigger emergency than they imagined.

In July 2003, Linda drove her husband to the emergency room at Baptist Health Medical Center, thinking he was experiencing heat-related symptoms after a hot day of yard work. It wasn’t long before Dr. Gary Collins came out from the exam room and said, "Your husband is about to have a heart attack. But we are going to stop it."

Robert immediately underwent a cardiac catheterization where two blockages were found – the bigger one requiring a stent. 

Afterward, Robert chose to go through cardiac rehabilitation and made great progress. Today, he’s healthy and experiencing the joys of continuing his role of being a father and a grandfather.

“I am thankful to God for sparing my husband's life that day,” says Linda. “Thank you Dr. Collins and Baptist Health. I will be forever grateful!”

Helpful Links

American Heart Association

My Pyramid

Online Health Encyclopedia 

American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)