Cardiac Rehab

According to CDC, approximately 610,000 people die each year from heart-related deaths. That is 1 in 4 men and women each year.  But there’s a lot you can do to protect your heart, including participation in a cardiac rehabilitation program if you have had a heart event.

What Are Your Risk Factors for Heart Disease?

Risk factors are conditions or habits that make a person more likely to develop a disease. They can also increase the chances that an existing disease will get worse. Important risk factors for heart disease are:

  • Having high blood pressure
  • Having high blood cholesterol
  • Unhealthy lifestyle
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Diabetes and prediabetes
  • Smoking
  • Being physically inactive
  • Having a family history of early heart disease
  • Having a history of preeclampsia during pregnancy
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Age (55 or older for women)

Some risk factors, such as age and family history of early heart disease, can’t be changed. If your father or brother had a heart attack before age 55, or if your mother or sister had one before age 65, you are more likely to get heart disease yourself. Therefore, you should take extra care to try to control other heart disease risk factors.

Talking to doctorYou and Your Primary Care Provider: A Heart-Healthy Partnership

A crucial step in determining your risk is to see your primary care provider for a thorough checkup. Your healthcare provider can be an important partner in helping you set and reach goals for heart health. But don’t wait for your healthcare provider to mention heart disease or its risk factors. All individuals who believe they are at risk should routinely bring up the subject of heart disease with their primary care provider.

Speak Up

Tell your primary care provider you want to keep your heart healthy and would like help in achieving that goal. Ask questions about your chances of developing heart disease and how you can lower your risk. Also ask for tests that will determine your personal risk factors.

Get Physical: Cardiac Rehabilitation

Being more physically active and eating a healthy diet are important steps for your heart health. You can make the changes gradually, one at a time. But making them is very important.  Your ultimate goal is 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week.  It’s simple you can walk 30 minutes for five days a week.  Or if you are a beginner, try walking 10 minutes three times a day for five days a week.

Cardiac rehabilitation, also called cardiac rehab, is a customized outpatient program of exercise and education. Cardia rehab is designed to help you improve your health. The program is recommended for people who have had a recent heart attack, heart surgery, or other heart procedure; had angina (chest pain); are living with congestive heart failure; or have other heart-related conditions.

Cardiac rehab often involves exercise training, emotional support, and education about lifestyle changes to reduce your heart disease risk, such as eating a heart-healthy diet, keeping a healthy weight, and quitting smoking.

The goals of cardiac rehab include establishing an individualized plan to help you regain strength, preventing your condition from worsening, reducing your risk of future heart problems, and improving your health and quality of life.

Research has found that cardiac rehab programs can reduce your risk of death from heart disease and reduce your risk of future heart problems. The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology recommend cardiac rehab programs.

Julie WaltenbergerKnoxville Hospital & Clinics’ Cardiac Rehab Program

Knoxville Hospital & Clinics offers a Cardiac Rehab Program that generally spans three months, with sessions of two or three times a week (usually 36 sessions over a 12-week time period). The length of your program depends on your goals and your physician’s recommendations. In special situations, people may be able to do an intensive program that may last just a few weeks, several hours a day.

During cardiac rehab, you will work closely with Cardiac Rehab Director Julie Waltenberger, who said, “As many who’ve participated in this program can attest, it can help you feel better physically and emotionally, and give you great control over your health.”

To join the cardiac rehab program, ask your doctor or other healthcare provider for a medical referral. If you have questions about the program, give Julie a call at (641) 842-1558.

Your health insurance may cover part or the entire cost of your cardiac rehab sessions. Check with your insurance company to clarify the extent of your coverage.  Your insurance company will need your medical provider’s diagnosis and date of event.


Article resources:  National Heart, Lung, CDC, and Blood Institute

The information on this blog is provided for general information purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, care, treatment or evaluation; nor should it be used in diagnosing a health condition. You are encouraged to consult your health care provider if you or a family member has or suspect you have a medical problem.