Cardiac Rehab?

Cardiac rehab is a process by which many with coronary artery disease learn to exercise in a safe manner. It generally comes highly recommended – check out Heart Source’s post on what cardiac rehab is and why it was an important part of her recovery.

Now I know this may be controversial, but I’ll just say it: I don’t want to go to cardiac rehab, and I’m hoping my cardiologist will go for it. It’s true, skipping cardiac rehab is contrary to conventional treatment for those coming back from an angioplasty. But I am younger and had a much more active lifestyle pre-intervention than most others. In our last meeting, Dr. Cardiologist acknowledged that my heart could probably handle me going back to all exercise without a problem.

Before the angina slowly took hold of my life, I was doing an array of challenging activities and enjoying the pursuit of new fitness goals. Since my procedure, I’ve done every activity I’ve been cleared to do. At first, I was told walking was all I could do, so I walked anywhere from 3 to 8 miles a day. As soon my catheter wounds healed, I got back to yoga class. Now that I’ve been cleared for moderate intensity activities, I’ve been swimming and biking.

And while I am loving the freedom to move my body without that scary chest pressure, I really miss the fitness classes that really pushed me: my flywheel spin class, boxing class, and body combat. Cardiac rehab would mean that I’d be directed to do intense cardio in a gym – not in my beloved classes. And I can’t start cardiac rehab for two weeks due their limited availability. I don’t want to wait – I am anxious to start.

There are a lot of reasons I am eager to go back to my old activities. I’m supposed to lose ten pounds. I miss the community. But the most important reason I am dying to get back to these activates is this: I’ve had to make a lot of changes since we discovered my coronary artery disease. The pill regimen is daunting. Changing my diet is frustrating. But cardio, cardio I can do; cardio I want to do! 

When we met on Friday, Dr. Cardiologist and I agreed I would do cardiac rehab. At the time, I assumed I could do it quickly and then leap into spin class, or maybe train for a race while the weather is nice. But then I found out I have to wait to start, and the rehab program is supposed to be the only intense exercise I get for several months. That’s when I started reconsidering. When we discussed it, Dr. Cardiologist suggested that if cardiac rehab didn’t work out we could discuss my getting back to exercise on my own. I’m hoping that means my new impassioned plea to skip rehab and return to my old activities will be met with a “yes.”

I put in a call to his office and discussed my feelings with his nurse. Now I’m waiting to hear back with fingers crossed. But don’t worry – I’ll do whatever he says. I listen to the people who saved my life.


2 thoughts on “Cardiac Rehab?

  1. I am a strong advocate for cardio rehab; it served me well after my heart operation. I gained confidence and progressed under supervision. I’ve since returned to everything I did before – Barre, yoga, Pilates, walking, cycling, dance fitness, “No Light No Lycra”, Nia and my mad crazy freestyle dances at parties/concerts 🙂

    A cardiac rehab nurse told me recently, that people who’d had stents are less likely to take up rehab. Possibly because they don’t have a visible scar reminding them every day or they have experienced less physical trauma. It takes longer to recover from surgery than angioplasty.

    So for all these reasons, I can see why rehab would be less enticing to a stent patient, especially when you are already young, fit and capable. However, trying rehab may bring unexpected benefits and insights. At the very least it will confirm your healthy, fully-functioning physical state.

    Looking forward to hearing what happens. I’m sure your decision will be the right one for you personally. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate the insights – especially since you are so active and have been through it. I’m waiting to see what my cardiologist thinks. I am trying to figure out the difference between my childish desire to do things my way and my intuitive understanding of what my body needs.

      I really enjoy your blog’s discussion of these issues – they give me great context and understanding of this stuff! It’s so great to hear from someone else who’s been through it!

      Liked by 1 person

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