You do not have to give up your life after a heart attack. Devastating as it may be, the period after a heart attack is an opportunity to get your lifestyle back on track.

John Hill, vice president of the Pulmo-nary Service Line and Clinical Ancillary Services at Deborah Heart and Lung Center, urges patients to follow a cardiac rehabilitation program after experiencing a heart attack.

“Cardiac rehab is a medically supervised program individualized for each person,” he said. It consists of exercise training as well as education and counseling about heart-healthy living.

“In fact,” Hill continued, “in addition to heart attacks, the American Heart Association recommends cardiac rehab for heart conditions like coronary artery disease, angina or heart failure, and after a heart procedure or surgery, including bypass surgery, angioplasty, and stenting, valve replacement or a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator.”

Steps to better health

A cardiac rehab program is designed to help patients recover more quickly and can even help reduce the risk of a future cardiac event by slowing, or in some cases reversing, the progression of cardiovascular disease. It helps you regain control of your health after a heart attack. It’s not always easy, but it can make you feel better and help you make the transition to a healthier, more active life.

What can I expect?

Cardiac rehab will give you an opportunity to begin a regular exercise program, under the watchful eye of cardiac rehab specialists. This team, in addition to creating a specialized program for you, can provide education and counseling about living a more heart-healthy life. Understanding what contributed to your heart attack — un-controlled high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle — will help to prevent it from happening again.

Usually broken up into one-hour classes spread out over 36 sessions, cardiac rehab combines upright and recumbent bikes, treadmills, machines for circular upper arm exercise, equipment for lateral stability moves, steppers, circuit machines, and free weights. Depending on your situation, the exercises can be performed with or without oxygen support.

“If you have had a heart attack,” Hill added, “cardiac rehab is a must to getting you back on the road to good health.”

For an appointment with a Deborah Heart and Lung Center specialist, call 855-856-7146 or visit www.demanddeborah.org.