Cardiac rehabilitation

Cardiac rehabilitation is a continuous process of care which begins in hospital. It is a supervised programme designed to improve your cardiovascular health and includes education on risk factor management, heart healthy living and exercise counselling and training.

It is offered to people who have experienced a heart attack, angioplasty and heart surgery and increasingly to people with heart failure.


Related topics heart attack, angioplasty, heart failure, cardiovascular disease, stopping smoking, losing weight, healthy eating, being active, healthy living, blood pressure, heart medicines, stress.


Cardiac rehabilitation – Who is it for?

People of all ages can benefit from cardiac rehabilitation. To help you improve your health and quality of life, partners and family are included in the program. You can divide cardiac rehabilitation into four phases.


Cardiac rehabilitation – How does it work?


Phase 1: Getting informed

This is the time you spend in hospital after your heart attack, surgery or procedure. During this phase, you will be informed about why you had a heart attack, your risk factors for heart disease and the medicines you have been prescribed. Your medical team will also discuss with you any issues such as returning to work and driving.


Phase 2: Getting healthy

This takes place immediately after you have left hospital. The aim of this phase is to help you to look at your lifestyle and ways that you can make it more heart healthy. This includes looking at your eating habits and physical activity or exercise, losing weight – if you need to, stopping smoking and reducing stress. Depending on which hospital you are attending, this phase of cardiac rehabilitation may be by phone, home visits, or individual or group education sessions.


Phase 3: Exercise and education

This phase takes 6 to 12 weeks to complete. Your cardiac rehabilitation centre will arrange for you to visit the centre two or three times each week for exercise, training and education sessions. To take part in cardiac rehabilitation, please do not hesitate contact the cardiac rehabilitation department at your local hospital.


Phase 4: Staying heart healthy

This phase is about maintaining the lifestyle changes that you have made and staying healthy. When you leave phase 3 of cardiac rehabilitation, which is very structured, it is important to keep exercising and to stay with your heart-healthy habits.

Some cardiac rehabilitation centres offer phase 4 of cardiac rehabilitation or can give you information on leisure centres in your area that offer the service. You may decide to exercise on your own without going to a cardiac rehabilitation centre or a leisure centre. In this case, your cardiac rehabilitation team can help you set a safe and realistic programme of activities to suit you.

Cardiac rehabilitation – Resources

For more information on cardiac rehabilitation, please visit the Irish Association of Cardiac Rehabilitation’s (IACR) website

A-Z of heart & stroke conditions

Your Heart Health – view our articles on ways to manage and reduce your risk factors, from being active to stress, cholesterol, losing weight, blood pressure and more.

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Learn more about Angioplasty – our page on angiogram

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Step by Step through Heart Medicines

Step by Step through Inherited Heart Disease

Step by Step through Heart Failure

AF and You – our information booklet for people living with atrial fibrillation

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