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Cardiac Rehabilitation Team

Topic Overview

After you start a cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) program, you will work with many health professionals. Each will have a specific role in your rehab.

While you are in rehab, make sure to stay in touch with your doctor or other health professionals who can keep track of your progress and health. You will probably keep in close contact with your primary care physician and your cardiologist. Also, be aware of any local rehab programs or support groups.

Remember, everyone's experience is different. A variety of health professionals can help guide you through your treatment.

Understanding your providers' roles

You may need a team of health professionals to help treat your heart condition and manage your treatment plan. This team includes specialists and generalists. You may not need help from all of these providers. But be aware of the different types you may see. When you understand their roles, you can get the most out of their expertise.

This table outlines the types of health professionals who may be involved in your treatment.

Your health care team

Team member

Who are they?

What is their role?

When would you see them?

Primary care physician

Internist, family doctor

They manage your medical care.

Regular visits (about 2 to 4 each year)


Heart specialist, including cardiac electrophysiologist

They give specialty medical care for your heart.

Sometimes for regular visits, or whenever your condition changes

Other specialist physicians

Nephrologist (kidney specialist), neurologist (brain/nerve specialist), lipid disorder specialist, endocrinologist, or physiatrist (rehab specialist)

They give specialty medical care in their area of specialization.

Whenever complications arise or special procedures need to be done

Cardiac surgeon

A physician specialist trained to operate on your heart

They perform surgeries, such as coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgeries and heart transplants.

If you are considering a cardiac surgery or to follow up after the surgery

Nurse/nurse practitioner/nurse educator

Type of nurse

They educate you and help you take control of your condition.

Whenever your medicines or diet orself-management need to be explained

Rehab nurse or occupational therapist

Specific type of professional or nurse

They help with building up your strength during recovery and rehab.

While you are in the hospital and after discharge

Physical therapist or exercise physiologist

Expert in improving health through exercise

They help you plan and maintain appropriate exercise and lifestyle behaviors.

Inpatient recovery and outpatient rehab

Registered dietitian

Expert in diet and nutrition

They help you plan and stay with an appropriate diet.

For help creating a heart-healthy diet that works for you

Psychiatrist/ psychologist/ social worker/ case manager

Mental health professional (except the case manager) who helps coordinate care and provider services

They help you cope with psychological aspects of your condition. They also help coordinate your care and services.

Regularly (perhaps weekly), for as long as needed


Pharmacology professional

They answer questions about how often to take your drugs and the side effects they might cause.

Whenever you need prescriptions filled

Related Information


Other Works Consulted

  • Thompson PD (2015). Exercise-based, comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation. In DL Mann et al., eds., Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine, 10th ed., vol. 1, pp. 1015–1020. Philadelphia: Saunders.


Current as ofJuly 22, 2018

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Rakesh K. Pai, MD - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Richard D. Zorowitz, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

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