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Cardiac Rehabilitation Program

If you have had a heart attack or been diagnosed with heart disease, it's important to make lifestyle changes.

To support a heart-healthy way of living, doctors at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute may recommend that you:

  • Take prescribed heart medication.
  • Get proper nutrition.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Participate in a supervised cardiac rehabilitation program.

What is cardiac rehabilitation (rehab)?

Cardiac rehabilitation (cardiac rehab) is an outpatient, physician-prescribed exercise program meant to help you:

  • Strengthen your heart muscle.
  • Increase your energy.
  • Lose excess weight and maintain a healthy weight.

It has physical, emotional, and psychological benefits and can help reduce the chances of a second heart attack.

Who Is Eligible for Cardiac Rehab?

Your doctor may refer you for cardiac rehabilitation if you have one of the following:

  • Angina
  • Heart attack
  • Coronary bypass surgery
  • Heart valve replacement or repair
  • Balloon angioplasty or stenting
  • Heart or lung transplant
  • Other heart-related conditions and procedures

Most insurers cover cardiac rehab programs.

Cardiac Rehabilitation: What to Expect

Cardiac rehab typically runs for one hour, three days a week. The program lasts between six and 12 weeks, depending on your needs.

At your first visit, our professional staff of nurses and exercise physiologists will complete a:

  • Detailed interview
  • Brief physical exam
  • Comprehensive review of your medical history

They will then design an individualized exercise and heart-health improvement plan to help you meet your personal goals.

With the objective of increasing cardiovascular endurance and muscular strength, they will train you to exercise on the equipment that is appropriate for you, such as:

  • Treadmills
  • Bikes
  • Rowers
  • NuStep® machines
  • Upper body cycles
  • Weights

During your one-hour cardiac rehab appointment, you will be on a continuous EK

G monitor and have your blood pressure checked while exercising.

In addition, your cardiac rehab team will meet with you to ask about signs and symptoms and to review your progress.

Cardiac Rehab Locations

Your cardiologist or heart surgeon can arrange cardiac rehabilitation services at any of the following locations.

Learn More About Cardiac Rehab and Heart Health 

UPMC's HealthBeat Blog:

From our Health Library at

In the News

Read an interview with Jon Ledyard, director of cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, about the benefits of cardiac rehab and existing challenges in getting patients to complete cardiac rehab programs.