Exploring the benefits of Cardiac Rehab

Cardiac Rehab

This post was written by Emily Keltner, MA, program coordinator, Cardiac Rehab, Parkview Heart Institute.

Outpatient Cardiac Rehab (also called Phase II) is a monitored exercise program for people who have experienced a heart attack within the last 12 months; received a balloon or stent placement in the heart; heart bypass surgery; valve replacement including TAVR (aortic valve replacement) and MitraClip (mitral valve repair) those experiencing stable chest pain; those who have had a heart transplant or those diagnosed with stable long term heart failure (depending on insurance). Cardiac Rehab includes an individual treatment plan and is typically 36 exercise sessions offered three days a week.


Cardiac Rehab measures various results as part of the program. These results – which have been shown to improve as someone moves through the program – are shared with the participant and their doctor. Each exercise session records resting and exercise blood pressure, heart rate, electrocardiogram and physical stamina on a variety of equipment.

Participants can expect to see improvements in:

  • Strength and flexibility
  • Food choices
  • Body weight
  • Physical stamina
  • Quality of life
  • Ability to continue exercising
  • Proper medication usage

Participants can expect to see a decrease in:

  • Risk of dying (due to heart attack or bypass in the next five years by 20-30%)
  • Chance of experiencing another heart attack (31 % lower risk)
  • Chest pain in those that have it
  • Blood pressure
  • Depression and anxiety

In January 2020, the Journal of the American College of Cardiology shared a research study that showed you can reduce your risk of developing atrial fibrillation (AFib) by increasing your fitness level. This is just one more reason to participate in Cardiac Rehab.

New technology

By the middle of 2020, all eight Parkview Cardiac Rehab locations will have new software that talks to the participant’s provider and other caregivers seamlessly. Providers caring for the participant will be able to see the individual exercise sessions and treatment plans in real time on the electronic chart. This new software will also allow Parkview to look at system-wide results quickly and compare to national standards in order to evaluate the quality and care of Parkview’s Cardiac Rehab participants. The information gathered in our Cardiac Rehab programs will offer great research opportunities as we continue to develop the best regimes and treatments for our participants.


Nationally, 20% of patients that could go to Cardiac Rehab actually do. There’s so much improvement to be gained for those with heart problems if they take advantage of Cardiac Rehab and continue to exercise afterward. The Parkview Heart Institute is working with Cleveland Clinic and participating in an American Hospital Association initiative (including 50 hospitals total) to improve the referral and enrollment process, and completion of Cardiac Rehab.

Seeing a healthcare professional three days per week for three months can help patients catch problems before they start and reinforce education and behavior changes. Cardiac Rehab will do that for our participants and is vital for getting the best results after having a heart event. I like to say if you are looking for a magic pill to cure what ails you, the answer is exercise.

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