The components of an effective cardiac rehabilitation program are a medical evaluation, a monitored exercise program, and counseling and education. After a cardiac rehab program, specialists help the patient return to work and resume a normal lifestyle, states the American Heart Association.
The first stage of a cardiac rehab program, the medical evaluation, determines the patient's specific needs and limitations. This enables the specialists to design an effective program and set appropriate goals. The physical activity program utilizes a group setting and provides heart rate and blood pressure monitoring. A physical therapist, physiologist or other health care professional supervises the exercise. The goal of the exercise program is to increase intensity of aerobic activity while maintaining optimal heart rate, according to the American Heart Association.
The counseling and education component of the program gives the patient training in maintaining a preventative and healthy lifestyle and also helps the patient cope with depression and stress related to heart attacks. A psychologist and a dietitian may assist in these areas. Counseling may also assist with problems such as obesity, smoking addiction and alcohol addiction, states the American Heart Association.
The duration of a cardiac rehab program ranges from six weeks to a year depending on the severity of the heart attack and the needs of the patient. Senior centers, community groups and some hospitals offer the programs. A cardiac rehab program often requires a referral from a primary care physician or cardiologist, advises the American Heart Association.