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Cardiac Rehabilitation: Hospital Program

Overview

Cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) may start while you are in the hospital. The hospital (inpatient) program is one part, or phase, of your cardiac rehab. This phase emphasizes exercise and education.

A hospital program may include:

  • A customized exercise program, based on your medical history, clinical condition, and symptoms.
  • Discharge instructions about recovery activities.
  • Education on a heart-healthy lifestyle and how to lower your risk of future heart problems.
  • Ways to help your body recover and:
    • Increase appetite and strength.
    • Increase aerobic capacity.
    • Increase lung capacity.
    • If you had a heart transplant, avoid rejection of your new heart.

Your hospital rehab staff can provide you with information and resources for making the transition from hospital to home. They can also refer you to a cardiac rehab program in your community.

Exercise program

The following exercises are examples. Your exercise program depends on your medical history, clinical status, and symptoms.

Discuss with your doctor any additional physical limitations or medical issues before you begin any exercise program.

An exercise program in the hospital progresses from initial supportive and self-care activities to regular daily walking.

  • You will start with easy activities, such as sitting up in a chair and walking, as soon as you are able. Early activity is important, because you lose muscle strength very quickly when you stay in bed.
  • As you become stronger, you might be active a couple of times a day for several minutes each time, depending on your condition. A member of the rehab staff will monitor your heart rate to be sure it doesn't get too high while you walk or slowly climb stairs.
  • How long you stay in the hospital depends on what problem, procedure, or surgery you had.

Here are some examples of initial activity:footnote 1

Step 1.
  • Rest in bed until stable.
  • Sit up in bed with assistance.
  • Stand at bedside with assistance.
  • Perform self-care activities while seated.
Step 2.
  • Sit up in bed independently.
  • Walk in room and to bathroom.
  • Perform self-care activities in bathroom.
Step 3.
  • Sit and stand independently.
  • Walk in hall with assistance: 3 to 5 minutes, 2 to 4 times a day.
Step 4.
  • Walk in hall: 10 to 15 minutes, 2 to 4 times a day.
  • Walk up and down stairs with assistance.

References

Citations

  1. Exercise prescription for individuals with cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases (2021). In Liguori G., ed., ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, 11th ed., pp. 68-73. Wolters Kluwer Health. https://online.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781975150228. Accessed November 2, 2021.

Credits

Current as of: January 10, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Rakesh K. Pai MD, FACC - 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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