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What Are the Benefits and Risks of Cardiac Rehabilitation?


Cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) has many benefits. It can:

  • Reduce your overall risk of dying, the risk of future heart problems, and the risk of dying from a heart attack
  • Decrease pain and the need for medicines to treat heart or chest pain
  • Lessen the chance that you'll have to go back to the hospital or emergency room for a heart problem
  • Improve your overall health by reducing your risk factors for heart problems
  • Improve your quality of life and make it easier for you to work, take part in social activities, and exercise

Going to cardiac rehab regularly also can reduce stress, improve your ability to move around, and help you stay independent.

People who get help for their emotional health and also start an exercise program can improve their overall health. They can lower their blood pressure and heart rate and control their cholesterol levels. These people are less likely to die or have another heart attack.

Treatment for emotional health also can help some people quit smoking.


The lifestyle changes that you make during cardiac rehab have few risks.

At first, physical activity is safer in the rehab setting than at home. Members of the rehab team are trained and have experience teaching people who have heart problems how to exercise.

Your rehab team will watch you to make sure you're safe. They'll check your blood pressure several times during your exercise training. They also may use an EKG (electrocardiogram) to see how your heart reacts and adapts to exercise. After some training, most people learn to exercise safely at home.

Very rarely, physical activity during rehab causes serious problems. These problems can include injuries to your muscles and bones or heart rhythm problems that can lead to a heart attack or death.

Your rehab team will tell you about signs and symptoms of possible problems to watch for while exercising at home. If you notice these signs and symptoms, you should stop the activity and contact your doctor.

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Last Updated: December 24, 2013