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Cardiac Rehabilitation: Home Program

Topic Overview

Your cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) might include an exercise program that you do at home. You might start this program after you go home from the hospital. The home program is one part, or phase, of your cardiac rehab.

The goals of a home program are to:

  • Make a smooth transition from hospital to home.
  • Take care of yourself after leaving the hospital. This includes taking care of your incisions if you had surgery.
  • Get stronger and be more active.

Follow your discharge instructions to avoid postsurgical complications and to prepare yourself for a more active lifestyle. Your home program will vary in length depending upon your medical history and current condition.

Your rate of recovery depends on age, gender, and other health conditions. Depending on your condition and how you respond to rehab, you may stay in a particular phase or move back and forth among the various phases. There is no set length of time that you must stay in a specific phase.

Home exercise program

Your exercises at home depend on your medical history, clinical status, and symptoms.Discuss additional physical limitations or medical issues with your doctor before you begin any exercise program.

Exercise progresses from activities of daily life to regular exercise. You will most likely walk or ride a stationary bike.

Aerobic exercise

A regular walking or stationary cycling program is an essential part of your home exercise program. How fast you progress will depend on your overall cardiovascular and muscular strength. Always warm up and cool down. Never exercise at an intensity that causes shortness of breath soon after open-heart surgery. Drink plenty of fluids, and avoid extreme weather conditions and temperatures. In extreme weather, you can try walking indoors at a mall or a gym.

Example program

Mode

Frequency

Intensity

Time

Walking (indoors or outdoors)


  • Week 1 to week 4: 3 to 5 times a day
  • Week 4 to week 8: 2 or 3 times a day

  • Slow to moderate pace
  • Avoid becoming short of breath.
  • Avoid hilly terrain.

  • Week 1: 5 to 10 minutes
  • Week 2: 10 to 15 minutes
  • Week 3: 15 to 20 minutes
  • Week 4: 20 minutes
  • Week 5: 25 minutes
  • Week 6: 30 minutes
  • Week 7: 35 minutes
  • Week 8: 40 minutes

Cycling (stationary)


  • Week 1 to week 4: 3 to 5 times a day
  • Week 4 to week 8: 2 or 3 times a day

  • Little to moderate resistance
  • Comfortable speed
  • Avoid becoming short of breath.

  • Week 1: 5 to 10 minutes
  • Week 2: 10 to 15 minutes
  • Week 3: 15 to 20 minutes
  • Week 4: 20 minutes
  • Week 5: 25 minutes
  • Week 6: 30 minutes
  • Week 7: 35 minutes
  • Week 8: 40 minutes

Related Information

References

Other Works Consulted

  • American College of Sports Medicine (2010). Exercise prescription for patients with cardiac disease. In WR Thompson et al., eds., ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, 8th ed., pp. 207-224. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
  • Graham IM, et al. (2011). Rehabilitation of the patient with coronary heart disease. In V Fuster et al., eds., Hurst's the Heart, 13th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1513-1530. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerRakesh K. Pai, MD - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerRichard D. Zorowitz, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Current as ofDecember 6, 2017


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