Phase I of cardiac rehabilitation

Phase I cardiac rehab takes place while you are in the hospital and emphasizes exercise and education. Because people with heart conditions do not typically stay in the hospital for very long, phase I programs provide information about returning home. Phase I rehab usually includes:

  • A customized exercise program, based on your medical history, clinical condition, and symptoms.
    • You will start with easy activities, such as sitting up in a chair and walking, as soon as you are able. Early activity is important because you lose muscle strength very quickly when you stay in bed.
    • You will probably exercise 2 to 3 times per day for 5 to 20 minutes each time, depending on your condition. A member of the rehab staff will monitor your heart rate to be sure it does not get too high while you walk or slowly climb stairs.
  • Discharge instructions about recovery activities. You may be given an exercise stress electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG) before or very soon after you go home from the hospital to see how much exercise you can safely do.
  • Information about your particular condition.
  • Education on how to reduce your risk of further problems with your heart. Health professionals such as doctors, nurses, dietitians, and physical therapists will teach you about lifestyle changes you can make, such as eating more nutritious foods and stopping smoking.

Your hospital rehab staff should be able to provide you with information and resources for making the transition from hospital to home.

Last Updated: October 8, 2008

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