Cardiac Rehabilitation: Maintenance Program

Overview

Cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) includes a phase that helps you keep the healthy behaviors and habits that you learned in rehab. This phase, or program, is often referred to as the maintenance part of rehab, because it can help you maintain a heart-healthy lifestyle.

Your goals may include:

  • Lowering your risk of future heart problems.
  • Continuing to exercise to regain your physical function.
  • Learning how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Maintenance programs may be held at a community facility or at home and will be tailored to your specific needs.

Regular communication with your rehab staff or doctor for periodic reviews and assessments is an important part of a maintenance program. Your progress will be monitored by several rehab staff members. The number of rehab sessions you have each week will vary depending upon the structure of your program.

Heart-healthy lifestyle

Your rehab staff will give you information and tools to enforce healthy habits, such as not smoking, staying at a healthy weight, and dealing with stress. You will also get tips on nutrition and taking your medicines.

This phase of rehab focuses on making a heart-healthy lifestyle part of your everyday life.

  • You will learn how to monitor your symptoms and heart rate.
  • Ask for written instructions—including how fast your heart rate should be—so you can easily refer to them as you become more independent.
  • Support throughout your life is important. Joining an exercise group or a support group for quitting smoking may be helpful.
  • If you exercise at home, make sure a health professional checks your progress.
  • Education and support from nurses, dietitians, physical therapists, and doctors can help.
  • In group programs, other people in the rehab program may become your support group and help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Exercise program

Your exercise program depends on your medical history, clinical status, and symptoms. Your cardiac rehab team will create an exercise program just for you.

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

Your exercise program will include stretching, aerobic exercise, and strength training. A daily exercise routine is encouraged.

Stretching and flexibility.

Stretching should be a part of your warm-up and cooldown every time you exercise.

Aerobic exercise.

Aerobic exercise in a maintenance program is designed for a lifetime of commitment. Make it enjoyable by choosing activities that you like. Examples include walking, swimming, biking, rowing, and jogging. It is still important to follow your health professional's advice to modify your intensity as you exercise.

Strength training.

Strength training continues to be an important part of your overall physical rehabilitation and conditioning. Gradually progress as you feel comfortable. Be sure to monitor your progress toward your goals.

Continue to follow the recommendations on correct technique, breathing, and intensity to improve and/or keep your muscular strength and endurance.

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