What is cardiac rehab?
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

What is cardiac rehab?

Cardiac rehab is proven to keep you out of hospital and reduce your risk of death from heart conditions.

Key takeaways

  • Cardiac rehabilitation (cardiac rehab) is a program that helps you make healthy lifestyle changes.  
  • It involves support, exercise and education to help strengthen your heart. 
  • It’s safe and comfortable for people of all ages and fitness levels. 
  • A team of health professionals create a tailored physical activity program to suit your needs. 
  • It’s important to continue your healthy lifestyle changes after you’ve finished your program. 
3 min read
Cardiac rehabilitation (cardiac rehab) is a program of support, exercise and education that’s led by health professionals and personalised to strengthen your heart. It helps you make long-term lifestyle changes so you can live a longer, healthier life. 

It helps your recovery after a heart event, procedure or the diagnosis of a heart condition. Cardiac rehab also helps lower your chances of having heart problems in the future. 

Cardiac rehab is proven to keep you out of hospital and reduce your risk of death from heart conditions.  

Cardiac rehab usually starts in hospital, but continues after you’ve left, either at home or in another location, such as a community centre. It often runs for 6 to 10 weeks, depending on your program and your health condition.  

Programs can be: 
 
  • Face-to-face 
  • Over the telephone 
  • On the internet 
  • In a group or one-on-one 
  • In hospitals, community centres or clinics 
  • In your home. 

As cardiac rehab often involves physical activity and exercise to improve heart health, it can sometimes be daunting. Don’t worry if you find some exercises challenging or have never done them before. An expert will give you safe exercises to suit your ability. 

Through a cardiac rehab program, you’ll be better able to return to your usual activities, such as working, driving or having sex. 

Is cardiac rehab for you? 

Cardiac rehab is recommended for you if you’ve had:
 
  • Coronary heart disease 
  • A heart attack or admission for angina  
  • A stent procedure or heart surgery (bypass, valve or artery surgery) 
  • Heart failure and cardiomyopathy 
  • Heart transplant 
  • A device insertion, for example a pacemaker or implanted defibrillator 
  • A cardiac arrest 
  • In-heart electrical rhythm problems, such as atrial fibrillation 
  • High blood pressure in your lungs (pulmonary hypertension) 
  • A stroke or mini stroke (TIA) 
  • An event (stent, PCI, CAGS). 
Each cardiac rehab service will have its own areas of specialty. For example, some support atrial fibrillation patients while others don’t.

To find out which program is best for you, speak to your healthcare team or contact your local cardiac rehab program. To find your closest cardiac rehab service, use the Heart Foundation’s Cardiac Services Directory.  

More about cardiac rehab

Finding a cardiac rehab program

You can find a cardiac rehab program by asking the hospital staff or your doctor. They’ll help you enrol in a program near you.  

Alternatively, search our Cardiac Services Directory, or contact our Heart Foundation Helpline on 13 11 12.  


Find a program near you

You might also be interested in

A nurse shares her top recovery tips for young cardiac patients

A nurse shares her top recovery tips for young cardiac patients

A nurse shares her top recovery tips for young cardiac patients

Pauline is a nurse and shares advice for young people who have had a heart event or are recovering from surgery....

Action Plans

Action Plans

Action Plans

Recovery is a long journey, so having a plan makes a huge difference. Using an action plan gives you a step-by-step guide to improving your lifestyle....

Alcohol action plan

Alcohol action plan

Automated Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD or AICD)

Automated Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD or AICD)

This is a device inserted into your chest to return abnormal heart rhythms to normal using electrical impulses. ...

Cardiac arrest at 26: adjusting to a new ‘normal’

Cardiac arrest at 26: adjusting to a new ‘normal’

Cardiac arrest at 26: adjusting to a new ‘normal’

Blood pressure action plan

Blood pressure action plan

Key steps that can help you manage your blood pressure....

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Your role as a carer for a heart attack patient is an important one – explore some useful things to know....

From diagnosis at 37 to heart surgery, rehab and now

From diagnosis at 37 to heart surgery, rehab and now

From diagnosis at 37 to heart surgery, rehab and now

Claude Lam, Open heart surgery survivor...

Find a cardiac rehabilitation service near you

Find a cardiac rehabilitation service near you

This cardiac services directory presents information on cardiac rehab programs offered across Australia....

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Explore our guide for driving and heart attack recovery. ...

Davina overcomes the shock of a lifetime to recover from a traumatic heart story

Davina overcomes the shock of a lifetime to recover from a traumatic heart story

Davina overcomes the shock of a lifetime to recover from a traumatic heart story

Davina was going about her busy life when a visit to her GP revealed a series of heart conditions that changed her life. ...

Cholesterol and triglycerides action plan

Cholesterol and triglycerides action plan

Key steps that can help you manage your cholesterol and triglyceride levels....

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

This is a guide to how you might be feeling after a heart attack. ...

Debbie's heart story

Debbie's heart story

Debbie's heart story

Debbie decided to give cardiac rehab a go and hasn’t looked back since. ...

Diabetes action plan

Diabetes action plan

Sorting out your finances after a heart attack

Sorting out your finances after a heart attack

Sorting out your finances after a heart attack

Explore how to manage your financial concerns after a heart attack. ...

Cardiac arrest at 33: the challenges of restarting your life

Cardiac arrest at 33: the challenges of restarting your life

Cardiac arrest at 33: the challenges of restarting your life

Emma shares her story and opens up about her emotional struggles....

End of Financial Year Tax Receipt

End of Financial Year Tax Receipt

End of Financial Year Tax Receipt

Looking to claim your donations in your tax return this financial year?...

Cardiac rehabilitation resources for healthcare providers

Cardiac rehabilitation resources for healthcare providers

Useful cardiac rehabilitation resources for health professionals....

The Heart Collective

The Heart Collective

The Heart Collective

Supporting women who are living with a heart condition....

Get heart attack recovery emails

Get heart attack recovery emails

Get heart attack recovery emails

The Heart Foundation has designed a series of emails to help people who've had heart attacks (and their loved ones) through their recovery....

Cardiac Rehabilitation for Health Professionals - Patient Resources

Cardiac Rehabilitation for Health Professionals - Patient Resources

Do you have a Heart Story to share?

Do you have a Heart Story to share?

Do you have a Heart Story to share?

Sharing your story could help another Australian just like you to overcome their heart challenges...

Confidential. Personal. Reliable.

Confidential. Personal. Reliable.

Confidential. Personal. Reliable.

Got a question about your heart?...

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Eating healthy foods can help you recover and reduce your risk of more heart problems. ...

Helen's heart story

Helen's heart story

Helen's heart story

It wasn’t until Helen's second heart attack that she realised the importance of exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet....

Nutrition action plan

Nutrition action plan

Heart attack medication

Heart attack medication

Heart attack medication

There are a number of medications you could be prescribed after a heart attack....

How a pacemaker at 34 saved my life

How a pacemaker at 34 saved my life

How a pacemaker at 34 saved my life

Kim shares the emotional and physical upheaval experienced on her journey to diagnosis and recovery....

Physical activity action plan

Physical activity action plan

Heart attack recovery – your first month

Heart attack recovery – your first month

Heart attack recovery – your first month

Explore the Heart Foundation’s guide on what to expect in the first month after your heart attack. ...

Jo's heart story

Jo's heart story

Jo's heart story

Joanne had five stents inserted into her heart in her early forties. Fifteen years later she had a triple bypass....

Psychological and social health action plan

Psychological and social health action plan

Key steps that can help you manage your emotional health....

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. Get the facts on quitting and how it can help you recover. ...

Lessons learned: recovering from open heart surgery

Lessons learned: recovering from open heart surgery

Lessons learned: recovering from open heart surgery

After having five open heart surgeries between the ages of 13 and 41, Peter knows a thing or two about recovery....

Quit smoking action plan

Quit smoking action plan

Heart Bypass Surgery

Heart Bypass Surgery

Coronary bypass surgery is a common procedure that can dramatically improve the health of your heart. ...

Margaret's heart story

Margaret's heart story

Margaret's heart story

Margaret was young, fit and otherwise healthy but suffered a major heart attack that could have devastated her life...

Heart procedures and devices

Heart procedures and devices

Heart procedures and devices

If you have a heart condition, your doctor may recommend treatment or procedures...

A damaged heart valve meant Ruth had to make a tough decision

A damaged heart valve meant Ruth had to make a tough decision

A damaged heart valve meant Ruth had to make a tough decision

When Ruth felt breathless climbing the lookouts on her overseas trip, the last thing she suspected was heart disease....

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Information to help you adjust to what could be the 'new normal'...

Sharing scars, and more, on Valentine’s Day

Sharing scars, and more, on Valentine’s Day

Sharing scars, and more, on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day; some people celebrate, other’s vehemently oppose it. Whatever your opinion, it’s important to remember that the day is about love. All forms of it....

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation programs and resources to support your recovery....

Supporting Young Hearts

Supporting Young Hearts

Supporting Young Hearts

Advice from young people living with a heart condition....

Nutrition after a heart attack

Nutrition after a heart attack

Nutrition after a heart attack

Discover key information on heart-healthy eating and drinking....

What are some helpful tips to help me manage my heart medications?

What are some helpful tips to help me manage my heart medications?

What are some helpful tips to help me manage my heart medications?

Permanent Pacemaker (PPM)

Permanent Pacemaker (PPM)

A small, battery-powered device that is fitted under the skin of your upper chest....

Physical activity after a heart attack

Physical activity after a heart attack

Physical activity after a heart attack

Discover what you need to know about being active after a heart attack....

Relationships and sex after a heart attack

Relationships and sex after a heart attack

Relationships and sex after a heart attack

Explore some useful things to know about intimacy after a heart attack....

Returning to work after a heart attack

Returning to work after a heart attack

Returning to work after a heart attack

Discover how to plan for your return to work....

Support after a heart attack

Support after a heart attack

Support after a heart attack

Many different thoughts may go through your head after a heart attack and you may be presented with complicated medical info. Know where to get support. ...

Taking your medicines

Taking your medicines

Taking your medicines

There are many medicines that treat heart attack, angina, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other heart conditions....

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

There is no single cause for any one heart condition, but there are risk factors that increase your chance of developing one. ...

Aboriginal heart health

Aboriginal heart health

Aboriginal heart health

Visit the St Vincents Hospital NSW and Heart Foundation Aboriginal heart health website for more information...

How we fought heart disease in 2020

How we fought heart disease in 2020

How we fought heart disease in 2020

Everything we do is possible thanks to the generosity of our supporters. ...

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation programs and resources to support your recovery....

Jump Rope for Heart

Jump Rope for Heart

Jump Rope for Heart

Jump Rope for Heart teaches school children how to keep fit and healthy through skipping!...

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

The fundraising race where you set the pace. Run, jog or walk MyMarathon at your own pace during October....

Physical activity in the workplace

Physical activity in the workplace

Physical activity in the workplace

Resources to help you create a more physically active workplace....

Getting active at school

Getting active at school

Getting active at school

Physical activity resources for school staff....

Healthy Active by Design

Healthy Active by Design

Healthy Active by Design

Improving the design of our cities, towns, streets and buildings makes it easier for Australians to lead heart-healthy lives....

Building physical activity into urban planning and design

Building physical activity into urban planning and design

Building physical activity into urban planning and design

Resources available for built environment professionals to help guide in the development of active outdoor and indoor spaces....

Your heart is your most important tool

Your heart is your most important tool

Your heart is your most important tool

Men’s Health Week is the perfect time to think about your heart....

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Try our Heart Age Calculator to understand what contributes to your risk of heart disease....

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Sign up now and discover delicious, easy to follow dinner recipes. Plus shopping lists, tips and other helpful information to make healthy eating easy. ...

Stay informed about COVID-19

Stay informed about COVID-19

Stay informed about COVID-19

If you have heart disease, you are more vulnerable to severe complications....

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Check out our recipe categories to find your next heart healthy meal....

Time to book a Heart Health Check?

Time to book a Heart Health Check?

Time to book a Heart Health Check?

If you're 45 and over, or 30 and over if you're of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, you should book your Heart Health Check today...

What is heart failure?

What is heart failure?

What is heart failure?

Heart failure is a condition where your heart isn’t pumping as well as it should be....

Heart disease and pregnancy

Heart disease and pregnancy

Heart disease and pregnancy

Pregnancy is often referred to as the “ultimate stress test” for the body....

Chest x-ray for heart disease

Chest x-ray for heart disease

This test can help your doctor determine if there is anything wrong with your heart....

What is angina?

What is angina?

What is angina?

Angina is a type of chest pain or discomfort that’s a symptom of an underlying heart problem, usually coronary heart disease (CHD)....

What is atrial fibrillation?

What is atrial fibrillation?

What is atrial fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation is a type of arrhythmia where your heart beats irregularly and fast....

Coronary Artery Calcium Score

Coronary Artery Calcium Score

A Coronary Artery Calcium Score or CT Calcium test can be used to estimate your risk of heart attack or stroke....

What is heart valve disease?

What is heart valve disease?

What is heart valve disease?

Heart valve disease means that your heart valve or valves don't open or close properly....

What is coronary heart disease?

What is coronary heart disease?

What is coronary heart disease?

Coronary heart disease (CHD) or coronary artery disease occurs when a coronary artery clogs and narrows because of a buildup of plaque....

What is heart disease?

What is heart disease?

What is heart disease?

Heart disease is the broad term for conditions that affect the structure and function of the heart muscle. ...

Medical tests for heart disease

Medical tests for heart disease

Medical tests for heart disease

Learn about the common tests your doctor may want you to have to diagnose your heart condition....

After being treated for atrial fibrillation, Boyd is now back on track

After being treated for atrial fibrillation, Boyd is now back on track

After being treated for atrial fibrillation, Boyd is now back on track

Running has been an important part of Boyd's life, so imagine his shock when a heart condition he had never heard of threatened to put a stop to it. ...

What is a cardiac arrest?

What is a cardiac arrest?

What is a cardiac arrest?

With immediate help a cardiac arrest can be survived. Learn how to save a life....

Heart conditions in women

Heart conditions in women

Heart conditions in women

Like men, women can be diagnosed with a range of heart conditions....

How to make healthier meals at home

How to make healthier meals at home

How to make healthier meals at home

Cooking at home is often healthier than eating out....