The Different Phases of Cardiac Rehabilitation

If you have recently had a cardiac event, such as a heart attack, your doctor might recommend cardiac rehabilitation. This program will allow you to gradually get back to regular exercise, improve your mobility, and help you to recover effectively following the cardiac event. There are four different parts to this program, as listed below.

Acute Care

During the first phase of cardiac rehabilitation, you will receive acute care. This will be what happens shortly after you have had the cardiac event. A physical therapist that specializes in acute care is going to assist you with this part of your rehabilitation. The primary goal of acute care is to start working on your mobility. After a heart attack, you will likely have problems with your mobility. However, if you had surgery for the cardiac event, such as open heart surgery, it will take longer to get to this point. You will probably be in the intensive care unit for recovery first.

Acute care often includes addressing your risk factors, helping you use an assistive device like a walker or cane, and providing you with gentle and safe exercises to start improving your physical activity.

Subacute Care

During the second phase of cardiac rehabilitation, you start receiving subacute care. This begins when you leave the hospital, thanks to the acute care you have received. By now, you are able to stand and walk on your own, even if slowly and not very far. Subacute care lasts a few weeks, depending on how well you are doing with rehabilitation. The physical therapist will come to your home or assisted living facility to help you with this phase of treatment. You continue getting help with your mobility while they also increase your physical activity. You will also learn how to monitor your own heart rate while exercising.

Outpatient Therapy

With the third phase, you have begun doing exercises on your own, though you may still see your physical therapist regularly. This is when you enter more intensive outpatient therapy. You will begin to exercise more and get your heart rate up. You can do this on your own or in a group exercise setting. While they won't be helping you physically as much, you will still be monitored by a physical therapist. They need to be sure your heart rate remains within the recommended level and will guide you as you exercise more. You may also start working on flexibility and strength during this phase.

Independent Conditioning

Finally, you are able to exercise completely independently. You can still see a physical therapist occasionally, but during this phase, they are no longer required. This is the last part of rehabilitation and is ongoing. It involves conditioning your body and gradually increasing how much fitness you can do and for how long. Always monitor your heart rate and pay attention to your body's signals. You should not overdo it and stop or slow down when you feel it is necessary. For assistance, talk to a professional like Nick Roselli Occupational Therapy.