Cardiac rehabilitation helps you strengthen your heart and regain your health when you are recovering from heart surgery or a cardiac event. We offer comprehensive, medically supervised cardiac rehab programs throughout the region. You receive support, education and expertise from a skilled team.
BJC HealthCare works with Washington University physicians, BJC Medical Group, and providers across the region to deliver extraordinary care. Our top priority is helping you achieve a better quality of life through heart health. Cardiac rehabilitation is part of our full continuum of care for people who have had a heart attack, heart surgery or have heart failure. We offer inpatient and outpatient services to meet your needs.
Choose our care team and you’ll find:
- Team approach: Our cardiac rehab program supports your recovery and helps reduce your risk of future cardiac events. Our team of doctors, nurses, exercise physiologists and registered dietitians provides a customized plan that combines exercise, counseling and education.
- Personalized care: We provide guidance and monitoring to help you develop healthy habits for a full, active life. Our team considers your fitness level, overall health and preferences to design a safe exercise plan.
- Recognized expertise: Our cardiac rehab programs at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital and Memorial Hospital, have earned accreditation from the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR). This certification recognizes our dedication to providing the most advanced services and the highest-quality patient care.
Cardiac rehab after surgery or a cardiac event can help you regain strength and improve your quality of life. Research shows it can also:
Help you stay independent and return to work and other daily activities
Improve blood pressure, weight and blood sugar and cholesterol levels
Increase your endurance and ability to exercise
Lower your risk of future heart conditions, including heart attack or heart failure
Reduce stress and help you quit smoking
Reduce the likelihood of future hospital admissions
- Relieve symptoms like chest pain, fatigue and shortness of breath
Your cardiac rehab plan may last several months and usually includes three phases.
The first phase of cardiac rehabilitation begins in the hospital after a heart attack or heart procedure. Your care team supervises you as you walk the halls or climb stairs as part of a light exercise program.
Nurses and physical therapists provide education on topics such as:
Details about your heart condition
Risk factors for heart disease
Work and daily activities
Wound care (if you have had surgery)
When you leave the hospital, we provide a plan for safe, limited physical activity that you can do at home. About 2 to 6 weeks after discharge, you begin outpatient cardiac rehab with gradually intensifying exercises as your health improves.
In this second phase, the goals are to strengthen your heart, build your endurance and reduce cardiovascular risk factors. Your cardiac rehab program includes personalized nutrition counseling with our registered dietitians. We also offer supervised physical therapy with our exercise physiologists.
Common timeframes for sessions are:
36 sessions over 12 weeks for regular cardiac rehab
72 sessions over 12 to 18 weeks for intensive cardiac rehab
During each session, we monitor you closely to see how your heart responds to physical activity. We continue with education on a range of topics to support you in managing your health. You learn to monitor your heart rate and exertion levels during exercise. You can adjust your own program as you become more independent.
In the third phase, you advance to a more independent exercise program that still includes our supervision. We provide continuing support for healthy lifestyle habits. We monitor your heart rate and rhythm before, during and after exercise. Our exercise physiologists help you adjust exercises so you can do them at home.
You do not have to be in the hospital to join a cardiac rehabilitation program, but you do need a doctor’s referral. Your doctor may recommend cardiac rehab if you have had:
Cardiac surgery, such as coronary artery bypass graft surgery
Coronary artery disease, heart failure or a heart attack
Heart valve repair or replacement
Minimally invasive heart procedure, such as an angioplasty
Medicare and most health insurance plans cover cardiac rehabilitation if you’ve experienced one of these events. Please check with your health insurance company to find out what your plan covers.