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Cardiac Rehabilitation

If you are recovering from heart surgery or a cardiac event, cardiac rehabilitation helps you strengthen your heart health. At the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Heart & Vascular Center, we offer a comprehensive, medically supervised program.

Cardiac Rehabilitation in St. Louis at Barnes-Jewish Hospital 

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 you with a customized plan that combines exercise, counseling and education.

We work closely with you, providing personalized attention and guidance to help you develop healthy habits for a full, active life. Our team takes into account your fitness level, overall health and preferences to design a plan that’s safe for you. Cardiac rehab includes careful monitoring of your heart rate and rhythm, blood pressure and other factors in a safe, medically supervised program.

Our cardiac rehab program has 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. 

Benefits of Cardiac Rehabilitation

Cardiac rehab helps you feel better after heart surgery or a cardiac event, and research shows several benefits, including: 

  • relieving symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath and chest pain (angina pectoris)
  • improving health factors such as blood pressure, weight, and blood sugar and cholesterol levels
  • supporting your well-being, including reducing stress and helping you quit smoking
  • improving your quality of life, including staying independent and returning to work and other daily activities
  • increasing your strength, endurance and ability to exercise
  • lowering your risk of future heart conditions, including heart attack or heart failure
  • reducing the likelihood of future hospital admissions

Am I Eligible for Cardiac Rehabilitation?

You do not have to be hospitalized at Barnes-Jewish Hospital to join our cardiac rehabilitation program, but you do need a doctor’s referral. 

Your doctor may recommend cardiac rehab if you have had: 

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.

Cardiac Rehabilitation: What to Expect

Your cardiac rehab plan may last 3 to 4 months, depending on your specific needs. The program usually includes three phases.

Inpatient care and transition

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
  • healthy eating
  • medication management
  • risk factors for heart disease
  • sexual activity
  • work and daily activities
  • wound care (if you have had surgery)

Outpatient monitored exercise

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 overall strength, and help reduce cardiovascular risk factors. Your cardiac rehab program includes personalized nutrition counseling with our registered dietitians along with supervised physical therapy with our exercise physiologists. Our timeframes for your 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, so you can adjust your own program as you become more independent.

Monitored program to maintain heart health

In the third phase, you advance to a more independent exercise program that still includes our team supervision. We provide continuing support for healthy lifestyle habits, and we monitor your heart rate and rhythm before you exercise. Our exercise physiologists help you adjust exercises to meet your changing needs and enable you to do them at home.

Contact Us

The Heart & Vascular Center's outpatient cardiac rehabilitation facility is located in Medical Office Building 3 on the campus of Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital. For more information, please call 314-996-3140.