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Living Your Best Life After a Cardiac Event or Pulmonary Diagnosis

Published: 08/23/19

If you’ve had a heart attack, heart surgery or other cardiac event, or if you’ve been diagnosed with a lung condition, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you may feel apprehensive and anxious about what comes next. Cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation, or rehab, can make a real difference in helping you take charge of your health and improve your quality of life.

Cardiac and pulmonary rehab programs are tailored to your individual needs. They may include education to help you understand your condition and manage symptoms, exercise and physical therapy to help you build strength and mobility, dietary guidance, stress management techniques, and counseling to help you cope with any psychological or emotional symptoms you may be dealing with.

While exercise is often an important component of cardiac and pulmonary rehab, these programs are more than just fitness regimens. Sessions are closely monitored to minimize risks and promote optimal health outcomes – and to help you build confidence and minimize the risk of going back to the hospital.

What is cardiac rehab?

Cardiac rehab is for individuals who have faced serious issues affecting their hearts. This may include having had a cardiac event, condition or procedure such as:

  • Heart attack
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Angina
  • Heart surgery, including coronary artery bypass graft (CABG)
  • Angioplasty
  • Stenting
  • Valve replacement
  • Heart or lung transplant

The cardiac rehab team will tailor a program for you based on a comprehensive medical evaluation. The evaluation may include cardiac imaging tests, an electrocardiogram, testing on a treadmill or exercise bike, and checking your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

Exercise is a key component of cardiac rehab, usually starting slowly and working toward greater intensity, while closely monitoring your heart rate and other vital signs. The goal is to increase physical activity, safely, as you work toward completing the program.

What is pulmonary rehab?

Pulmonary rehab is for patients who have chronic lung diseases or other issues affecting their breathing function. This may include:

  • COPD
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Asthma
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Lung cancer
  • Lung transplant

Pulmonary rehab aims to improve lung function, build strength and mobility, and help you manage everyday tasks. It may involve physical therapy, breathing exercises and monitoring. Sessions may involve physical therapy, breathing techniques and exercises.

It’s common for people who have had issues with breathing function to feel anxious, depressed or emotionally affected in some way. Counseling is often included to help manage these symptoms. 

Are these programs covered by insurance?

Medicare and most private insurance companies cover a major percentage of the cost of the program. Percentages of reimbursement vary so patients should check with their insurance companies to verify coverage. Most insurances are accepted.

After a serious cardiac event or pulmonary diagnosis, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and uncertain. Cardiac and pulmonary rehab, such as the programs offered right here at Meadows Health, can help you feel empowered and strong, as you take on each new day.