Cardiac Conditioning

Cardiac conditioning is a crucial part of preventing the recurrence of heart problems in patients who have had a cardiac procedure or heart surgery. In general terms, it is a medically-supervised exercise program aimed at promoting a healthy post-procedure lifestyle and reducing the chances that blockages and other heart problems will recur. In addition to exercise, such programs may include diet modification, stress reduction activities, and smoking cessation assistance. Physical therapists often lead cardiac conditioning programs, ensuring that patients ease into exercise slowly. They are skilled at developing individualized programs based on each patient’s specific needs and abilities. Often, the program begins when the patient is still in the hospital; there, he or she will receive education and nutrition counseling. In some cases, patients may begin physical therapy in the hospital. Following discharge, patients will begin a four to 12 week program, usually with three sessions per week. These sessions typically include walking or biking, cardio exercise on treadmills or other machines, resistance training, and stretching. The physical therapist or other medical professional who is supervising the program will perform frequent heart health checks and blood pressure monitoring. Once the patient’s health has stabilized, he or she will receive a prescribed long-term exercise plan to maintain the gains they have made.