Cardiac Rehabilitation Phases

According to the WHO recommendations cardiac rehabilitation is divided into three main phases: inpatient, outpatient and home programs. The effectiveness of the whole rehab system depends on the successes obtained at every phase.

1. Inpatient (acute) phase – a member of the rehab team starts working with the patient while he is still in the hospital. This phase may last from one day and up to 14 days, depending on the condition of the patient.

Its main aim is to restore the patient's physical abilities and psychological condition so that he will be prepared to move to the second phase.

The inpatient phase usually includes:

  • Understanding how well the patient can take care of himself (dressing, bathing, eating) after his cardiac event or surgical intervention
  • Evaluating physical abilities – the types of exercises that are safe for the patient and how soon he can start doing them are determined
  • Informing the patient and his family about the required lifestyle changes (healthy food, smoking cessation)
  • Simple exercises like walking

2. Outpatient (sub-acute) phase3 to 6 months. This phase follows discharge from the hospital and is closely monitored. Patients exercise regularly under the supervision of exercise physiologists and nurses in a hospital Cardiac Rehabilitation department, or free-standing rehab clinic. Another important aspect of this phase is education; how to monitor exertion levels and heart rate during physical activity, proper exercises, and cardiovascular risk factors.

3. Maintenance program and home phase - it implies more independent exercise and long-term lifestyle changes. The exercise programs of this phase are individually tailored to the needs of the specific patient. Once having completed the maintenance program, patients are given guidelines concerning home exercises.

Cardiac rehabilitation programs may vary in different hospitals, and each hospital may offer a variety of programs.

What should you take into consideration when choosing a cardiac rehab program?

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