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Cardiac Rehabilitation: Lifestyle Changes

A cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) program can help you make lifestyle changes. In cardiac rehab, a team of health professionals provides education and support to help you make new, healthy habits.

Quit smoking

Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do to reduce your risk of future problems. Medicines and counseling can help you quit for good.

Reduce angina (chest pain or discomfort)

Education and counseling can help you learn how to reduce episodes of angina (such as chest pain or discomfort). Angina occurs during activities that make the heart work harder, such as climbing stairs, having sex, eating a large meal, having emotional stress, or being exposed to cold. Other symptoms of angina include shortness of breath, nausea, and a cold, sweaty feeling. Angina is often relieved by rest and medicines.

Stay at a healthy weight

Education combined with exercise, diet, and support can help you stay at a healthy weight or lose weight if you need to. If you need to lose weight, try not to feel overwhelmed. Set small, attainable goals, and then get help to keep reaching those goals. Losing even a small amount of weight can improve your overall health and reduce your risk for further heart problems.

Lower high blood pressure

You will receive tips on lowering your high blood pressure through methods such as the dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH) diet. When combined with exercise and stress management, dietary changes can help lower your blood pressure.

Improve cholesterol

You will get help improving your cholesterol through lifestyle changes and possibly medicine. Lifestyle methods include the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) program. The lifestyle changes include diet, exercise, weight loss, and other changes like quitting tobacco use. Your cardiac rehab team can also check on how you are doing with taking cholesterol medicine. You will want to follow TLC even if you are taking cholesterol-lowering medicine. Your medicine will be more effective if you have healthy eating and exercise habits.

Improve emotional well-being

The education and support you receive in a cardiac rehab program can help you feel better about yourself in your everyday life. Seeking help for depression, along with managing any anxiety and anger you may have, can help you stay healthy.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Specialist Medical Reviewer John A. McPherson, MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology
Last Revised September 27, 2012

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