Cardiac Rehabilitation

Whether you've had a valve replacement or you're recovering from open heart surgery, regaining the level of cardiac fitness that’s right for you is an ongoing process that takes time, commitment and medical supervision.

The cardiac rehabilitation program at The Hospitals of Providence (THOP) is a comprehensive combination of exercise, education and support that may help you make healthy changes and maintain an active lifestyle.

Our team of physicians, registered nurses, physical therapists and nutritionists work closely together to help patients in El Paso and nearby cities better manage many of the problems associated with cardiovascular disease by focusing on these key elements:

  • Reducing your cardiac risk factors
  • Limiting the progression of cardiovascular disease
  • Improving and maintaining physical functioning

Our comprehensive services are geared to individuals who are recovering from cardiovascular conditions including but not limited to the following:

Coronary procedures such as stent placement and angioplasty
Angioplasty is a major surgical procedure to access and open narrowed or blocked coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart. A stent is often placed during or immediately after angioplasty to help prevent the artery from closing up again.

Coronary artery bypass grafting
Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG, pronounced as “cabbage”) is the most common type of heart surgery used to treat people who have severe coronary heart disease (CHD), a condition when plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart.

During CABG, the surgeon takes a healthy artery or vein from other parts of the body and grafts it to the blocked coronary artery. The grafted arteries reroute the blood around the blocked portion of the artery to supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. A patient may undergo multiple bypass grafts depending on the number of clogged arteries.

This procedure improves the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart, relieves chest pain, reduces the risk of heart attack and improves the patient’s ability for physical activity that has been limited by certain heart conditions.

Heart valve repair or replacement
Healthy heart valves allow blood to precisely flow between different chambers and out of the heart into large arteries. Each valve has a set of flaps called leaflets. Surgery is performed when these leaflets do not open as wide as they should or if they do not close tightly. To fix these problems, surgeons either perform valve repair or replacement using a man-made or biological valve. These biological valves are made from pig, cow or human heart tissues.

Heart attack
This is a condition that occurs when a part of the heart muscles does not get enough blood. Heart attack may be caused by coronary artery disease, severe spasm or sudden contraction of a coronary artery. Some of the major symptoms of a heart attack include chest pain or discomfort; light-headedness; pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck or back, pain; or discomfort in one or both arms or shoulders and shortness of breath.

Heart or lung transplant
This type of surgery aims to remove and replace a diseased heart or lung with a healthy organ from a donor.

Other cardiovascular conditions

Exercise and Education

Patients in the cardiac rehabilitation program have a choice of land-based or aquatic exercises to help them regain their strength. We also offer educational classes and a lecture series led by our hospital staff on a range of topics that encourage and teach patients how to

  • Exercise regularly and safely
  • Make healthy diet choices
  • Better manage stress
  • Better manage their weight
  • Manage diabetes

In addition, we provide information on support groups and counseling services.

What Is Cardiac Rehabilitation?

Cardiac rehabilitation, or cardiac rehab, is a medically supervised and customized program that involves exercise training, education on heart-healthy living and counseling to reduce stress. Studies have shown that cardiac rehab increases the chances of patients’ survival in five years following a heart attack or bypass surgery by about 35%.

This program is provided in a hospital, outpatient clinic or rehabilitation center, but other programs may also be done at home. Cardiac rehab is a team effort which involves the patient and a medical team of doctors, nurses, exercise specialists, physical and occupational therapists, dietitians or nutritionists and mental health specialists. The program may start while the patient is still in the hospital or right after discharge and may last up to three months. Research has shown that patients who have attended at least 25 sessions benefit more from the program compared to those who have attended fewer sessions.

A cardiac rehab program consists of three phases:

  • Phase I: Clinical Phase

    This phase begins soon after surgery and involves assessing the patient's physical ability and motivation for rehabilitation. The cardiac rehab team may start guiding the patient through non-strenuous exercises and range of motion drills.

  • Phase II: Outpatient Cardiac Rehab

    Outpatient cardiac rehab can begin as soon as the patient is stable and cleared by the attending physician. This rehab is divided into three subphases: information/advice, tailored training program and a relaxation program. Outpatient cardiac rehab typically lasts 3 to 6 weeks and may last up to 12 weeks.

  • Phase III: Postcardiac Rehab

    Patients in this phase are allowed more independence and self-monitoring. It centers on increasing flexibility, strengthening and aerobic conditioning.

Who Is Eligible for Cardiac Rehabilitation?

Anyone who has had a heart attack, heart failure, heart valve surgery, coronary artery bypass grafting or percutaneous coronary intervention are encouraged to register for a cardiac rehab program.

Benefits of Cardiac Rehabilitation

Cardiac rehab improves the quality of life and, the ability to carry out day-to-day activities and prevents depression and anxiety. Long- and short-term benefits include

  • Strengthening your heart and body after a heart attack
  • Relieving symptoms of heart problems, such as chest pain
  • Building healthier habits such as getting more physical activity, quitting smoking and eating a heart-healthy diet
  • Improving your mood
  • Motivating you to take prescribed medicines that help lower your risk for future heart problems
  • Preventing future illness and death from heart disease

Getting Started with Cardiac Rehabilitation

Before you sign up for the cardiac rehab program we offer in El Paso and nearby cities, you must get a recommendation from your treating physician to properly assess your eligibility. If you have been recently treated for a heart attack, your cardiac surgeon might recommend waiting for four weeks before exercising. Once you are cleared by your surgeon, you’ll set goals for your heart health and work together with your medical team to create a cardiac rehab plan that works best for you. Make sure to take your medications correctly and on time, and if you experience new or worsening symptoms during the course of the program, immediately call 911.

Find a Cardiologist

Fill out a contact form and we’ll call you to refer a doctor.