Cardiac rehabilitation refers to the sum total of physical, mental and social assistance provided to recovering heart patients to enable them to resume, by their own efforts, as normal a life as possible whether at home, at the workplace, or in the wider community. It is an important adjunct to medical treatment, with research indicating that most heart patients benefit significantly from cardiac rehabilitation programmes.
Who Should Participate
Cardiac rehabilitation is not confined to those patients who have undergone some form of invasive cardiac procedure. Instead, patients with established heart disease – i.e. those who have an existing heart condition, who have suffered a heart attack, or who are at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease – are also eligible. In addition, cardiac rehabilitation programmes are recommended for patients awaiting heart transplantation so that they can start learning about the medications, exercise regime, and lifestyle changes needed after a transplant.
Nature of a Cardiac Rehabilitation Programme
A comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation programme should include a medically prescribed exercise routine based on the patient’s exercise tolerance level. Physical activity is crucial in helping the patient to improve his cardiovascular fitness and cultivate a lifelong habit of regular exercise, which can help to delay further deterioration of his heart condition. At the same time, cardiac rehabilitation should also offer behavioural counselling and health education to enhance the patient’s psychological well-being as well as reduce any coronary risk factors and modify any unhealthy lifestyle habits which he may have.
Cardiac rehabilitation is usually carried out in four phases as shown below:
|Phase||Nature of Rehabilitation|
|I||Inpatient – introduction to caring for one’s heart|
|II||Outpatient – usually begins 2 weeks after discharge from hospital and lasts for 8 to 12 weeks|
|III||Outpatient intermediate maintenance – for a period of 4 to 8 weeks|
|IV||Community-based – lifelong maintenance of cardiac health. Most hospitals offer in-hospital cardiac rehabilitation programme. For community-based cardiac rehabilitation programme, patients can enroll with the SHF-Edwards Lifesciences Foundation Heart Wellness Centre or the SHF Heart Health Hub.|
To learn more about SHF’s cardiac rehabilitation, please click here.