Following a diagnosis of heart attack or heart failure, or after a procedure such as angioplasty, heart valve surgery, coronary artery bypass grafting, percutaneous coronary intervention or heart surgery, your doctor may recommend you participate in a cardiac rehabilitation program. Cardiac rehab involves adopting heart-healthy lifestyle changes to address risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Medical evaluation. Your health care team will generally perform an initial evaluation to check your physical abilities, medical limitations and other conditions you may have. Ongoing evaluations can help your health care team keep track of your progress over time. During your evaluation, your health care team may look at your risk factors for heart complications, particularly during exercise. This can help your team tailor a cardiac rehabilitation program to meet your individual needs, and the team can make sure it's safe and effective for you. 

Physical activity. Cardiac rehabilitation can improve your cardiovascular fitness through physical activity. Your health care team will likely suggest low impact activities that have a lower risk of injury, such as walking, cycling, rowing, jogging and other activities. Your health care team will likely teach you proper exercise techniques, such as warming up and cooling down. You may also do muscle-strengthening exercises, such as lifting weights or other resistance training exercises, two or three times a week to increase your muscular fitness. Don't worry if you've never exercised before, your health care team can make sure the program moves at a comfortable pace and is safe for you.

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