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Exercise your right to heart rehab

If you’ve suffered a heart attack, have your doctor refer you to a cardiac rehabilitation program that includes exercise, advises the American Heart Association. On average, exercise-trained patients have a 26 percent lower risk of cardiac death than those not in an exercise-based rehab program. They also suffered fewer subsequent heart attacks and had 13 percent fewer bypass procedures and 19 percent fewer angioplasties. Exercise helps strengthen the heart, improve blood flow and reduce blood clots. A good rehab program should also include:

  • baseline and follow-up assessments
  • aggressive strategies to reduce risk factors like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, excess weight and uncontrolled diabetes
  • nutrition and smoking cessation counseling
  • encouragement to follow prescribed drug therapy
  • psychosocial and occupational counseling