Cardiac rehabilitation

Senior man, outside.

Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death for men and women the United States. However, many types of heart disease can be prevented by reducing and controlling risk factors. Spectrum Health’s preventive cardiology and cardiac rehabilitation teams offer a variety of services and programs to those with known cardiovascular disease or those at high risk of developing it.  

The preventive cardiology team works with you to utilize a combination of lifestyle and medical strategies focused on reducing your risk factors for cardiovascular disease while improving your health and well-being. Our cardiac rehabilitation team works with those who have had a recent cardiovascular event or procedure. Spectrum Health partners with Pritikin* Intensive Cardiac Rehab (ICR) to target your specific diagnoses and develop a program that assists in lifestyle modifications, rehabilitation, and improved quality of life.

What is cardiac rehabilitation?

Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised program that pairs exercise with education. This program is designed to provide you with the information, tools, and confidence to improve your cardiovascular health, physical function, and quality of life.

Is cardiac rehabilitation for me?

Anyone, 18 years and older with a qualifying diagnosis, can be referred by a physician and may benefit from a cardiac rehabilitation program. You may be eligible for cardiac rehabilitation if you have any of the following diagnoses:

  • Stable angina
  • History of heart attack
  • Coronary intervention (angioplasty or stents)
  • Coronary artery bypass surgery
  • Heart valve surgery
  • Heart failure LVAD/Pre-transplant
  • Heart transplant

What are the benefits of cardiac rehabilitation?

Cardiac rehabilitation is one of the best things you can do to improve your heart health. Cardiac rehabilitation doesn’t change your past, but it can help to improve your heart’s future. Participating in a cardiac rehabilitation program can: 

    • Lower your risk of a future cardiac event
    • Control heart failure symptoms
    • Improve quality of life
    • Improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels
    • Reduce stress
    • Improve depression/anxiety
    • Help with better dietary habits, which may lead to weight loss
    • Build strength and endurance needed to return to work
    • Increase energy level
    • Improve strength and ability needed to perform daily activities

    When can I start the cardiac rehabilitation program?

    Your physician will place a referral for the cardiac rehabilitation program prior to your discharge from the hospital or during a follow-up visit. You will then be contacted by a Spectrum Health staff member, and an orientation visit will be scheduled, approximately two to four weeks after you are discharged from the hospital.

    What can I expect in a cardiac rehabilitation program?

    Intensive Cardiac Rehab (ICR) empowers you with the tools and resources you need to make lasting lifestyle changes to support your cardiac recovery. Each ICR visit includes safe, supervised exercise and in-depth education through immersive workshops, in-depth videos, live cooking demonstrations, and individualized consultations.

    During exercise, you can expect

    • Individualized treatment plans 
    • EKG monitoring during supervised exercise sessions 2-3 times per week
    • Goal setting and accountability
    • Exercise guidance and reassurance 
    • Education on exercise equipment and resistance training
    • Develop a home exercise plan using the equipment or your personal resources

    During education, you can expect

    In-depth videos, workshops, and cooking classes demonstrating the three pillars of the Pritikin program: regular exercise, a balanced eating plan, and a healthy mind-set. Educational encounters, workshops, and cooking classes are held 2-3 times per week.

    Nutrition Workshops
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    As part of our in-depth Nutrition Workshops taught by registered dietitians, you will learn about the Pritikin Eating Plan. It's not just another diet – it’s a realistic, sustainable approach to heart-healthy eating, tailored to meet your needs.

    • Whole-Foods, Plant-Focused: Includes plenty of produce, whole grains, beans, and legumes.
    • Nutrient-Dense: Naturally rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 
    • Animal Protein: Emphasis on omega-3-rich fish and other lean meats. 
    • Low-Sodium: For optimum heart health and a healthy blood pressure. 

    Nutrition Workshops include: 

    • Fueling a Healthy Body 
    • Mindful Eating 
    • Targeting Your Nutrition Priorities 
    • Dining Out Detective: Making the Most of a Menu 
    • Label Reading
    Healthy Mind-set Workshops
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    Learning to recognize and reduce stress is another important element of heart health. Through our Healthy Mind-Set Workshops, you will discover simple and actionable techniques which you can incorporate into your daily life as you continue the recovery process. 

    Healthy Mind-set Workshops include: 

    • New Thoughts, New Behaviors 
    • Managing Moods and Relationships 
    • Healthy Sleep for a Healthy Heart 
    • Recognizing and Reducing Stress 
    • Tobacco Cessation
    Exercise Workshops
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    Regular exercise following a heart event is a crucial aspect of the recovery process. Your cardiac rehab team will work with you to develop an individualized exercise plan, get you started, and track your progress. Your customized rehab plan will include cardiovascular conditioning, resistance training, and flexibility components. As you exercise in the safe and controlled environment of our ICR facility, you will be monitored by a care team who can serve as the eyes and ears of your physician. When you're ready to graduate from cardiac rehab, our ICR team will work with you to create a long-term, sustainable home exercise plan to continue what you learned and build upon your skills. 

    Exercise Workshops include: 

    • Exercise Basics: Building Your Action Plan 
    • Exercise Biomechanics 
    • Balance Training and Fall Prevention 
    • Managing Heart Disease: Your Path to a Healthier Heart

    Cooking School Workshops
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    Your journey to recovery is taken even further through weekly Cooking School Workshops. Taught by a team of culinary experts, these live cooking demos will show you, plus your significant other or support person, just how easy it is to prepare Pritikin-style, heart-healthy meals that are both tasty and affordable. Cooking School Workshops include:

    • Adding Flavor - Sodium-Free 
    • Fast and Healthy Breakfasts 
    • Powerhouse Plant-Based Proteins 
    • Satisfying Salads and Dressings 
    • Simple Sides and Sauces 
    • International Cuisine - Spotlight on the Blue Zones 
    • Delicious Desserts 
    • Savory Soups
    White bean chili
    • Efficiency Cooking - Meals in a Snap
    • Tasty Appetizers and Snacks
    • Comforting Weekend Breakfasts
    • One-Pot Wonders
    • Fast Evening Meals
    • Easy Entertaining
    • Personalizing Your Pritikin Plate
    Registered dietitian consult
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    Scheduled one-on-one time with a registered dietician to discuss and plan your health and wellness needs.

    Additional treatment programs

    Metabolic Wellness Program
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    Metabolic syndrome is a group of specific health conditions that increases risk of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Our metabolic wellness program pairs exercise and education and is personalized based on your goals. We will provide the tools and resources to decrease risk factors. As a patient, you will meet with an exercise specialist who will create an exercise program unique to the individual.

    Enhanced External Counter Pulsation (EECP)
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    EECP is an outpatient treatment that may reduce the symptoms of angina and heart failure. It works by increasing the blood and oxygen supply to the heart muscle and decreasing the amount of work the heart needs to do to pump blood to the rest of the body. Over time, EECP helps the heart become stronger and more effective. 

    Cuffs, like those used to check blood pressure, squeeze the legs. The inflation and deflation of cuffs is based on the timing of heartbeats. This treatment helps improve blood flow and increases the strength and efficiency of your heart. One-hour treatments are scheduled, Monday through Friday for seven weeks. Approximately 80% of patients who complete the 35-hour course of EECP therapy experience significant symptom relief.

    Peripheral artery disease (PAD) Supervised Exercise Training (SET) Program
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    Lifestyle changes, especially walking, can help you manage and counter the effects of PAD and leg pain by increasing blood flow to the legs. For those who take part in SET, the benefits can be especially good. Studies have shown that exercise is an effective way for PAD patients to walk greater distances with less pain and improve their quality of life. A SET program is recommended as the initial treatment for patients suffering from intermittent leg pain while walking, the most common symptom experienced by people with PAD.

    Attending this program can make a significant difference by:

    • Building strength so you can take part in the activities that make up your daily life
    • Decreasing/relieving painful symptoms when walking
    • Improving ability to walk longer distances and for longer periods of time
    • Improving quality of life
    • Increasing energy


    Contact Your Provider to Join

    Both a primary care provider and a cardiologist can refer you to the cardiac rehabilitation program.