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What Is Cardiac Rehabilitation?

Give to Cardiac Rehab

Please help support our patients in the Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Center. For questions on how to donate, contact Collette Wixom-Call.

Call at 208-241-6249.

Cardiac rehabilitation is an exercise and wellness program that helps patients become healthy again after they’ve had heart-related problems like heart attack, angina, or after having a heart transplant.

Getting healthy again after a heart condition can be both physically and emotionally draining. During cardiac rehabilitation, specially trained health professionals will supervise you in exercise and wellness programs. The goal of these programs is to make sure you meet certain health benchmarks during your recovery.

At University of Utah Health, we have a group of trained and certified cardiac professionals. Our team includes: 

  • nurses,
  • exercise physiologists/specialists, and
  • a dietitian.

Our team specializes in helping patients prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases.

Cardiac rehab is a 12-week (up to 36 session) program that helps you make important, long-term changes to your exercise and lifestyle habits. We tailor our program to your unique needs.

To find out if you can participate in our cardiac rehab program, contact us.

Find a Cardiac Rehab Specialist

Preventing & Treating Heart Problems

Lilian Khor, MD, with cardiac rehabilitation team
Lillian Khor, MD, with cardiac rehabilitation team

After a heart-related illness, everyone’s recovery path is different. We focus on all areas of recovery: emotional, physical, and mental.

In order to prevent and treat heart problems, we give all our patients a comprehensive cardiovascular risk assessment. Based on these results, our team will work together to create an individual plan for you.

You’ll also have the opportunity to sit down with each of our staff members multiple times throughout the program so we can continue to assess your cardiovascular risks and provide you with support along the way.

We also offer bi-monthly education classes, stress management, diet modification, and smoking cessation support to encourage a heart-healthy lifestyle.

What Are the Benefits of Cardiac Rehab?

There are several health benefits for patients who complete a cardiac rehab program. On average, these patients:

  • Live longer and have lower chances of having another heart attack.
  • Control their heart disease symptoms like chest pain or shortness of breath.
  • Stop or reverse damage to your blood vessels in your heart.
  • Lessen the physical and emotional effects of heart disease.
  • Improve stamina and strength, and get back to their usual activities; including work, hobbies, and regular exercise.
  • Improve their confidence and well-being.

If you’ve been hospitalized for heart problems in the past, joining a cardiac rehabilitation program will lower your chances of being hospitalized again.

Cardiac rehab can also help you return to work and improve your quality of life after a heart-related illness.


Get Emotional Support From Other Patients

Suffering from a heart-related illness is challenging. Many patients who’ve had heart problems feel depressed or anxious and are worried they’ll have heart problems again in the future.

One of the most valuable parts of cardiac rehab is connecting with other patients who’ve gone through similar experiences. During our program, many of our patients get emotional support from other patients who are dealing with similar health issues.

We want patients to feel comfortable using our staff and resources to get through their illness and improve their quality of life.

Cardiac rehabilitation patient at work in the gym
Cardiac rehabilitation patient at work in the gym

What Services Do We Offer?

Khor and patient

We offer the following services:

  • Evaluation for heart disease risk factors (factors that increase your chances of developing heart disease)
  • Exercise prescriptions
  • Nutrition consultation
  • Stress management
  • Medication education
  • Cardiac rehab

Our cardiac gym has a variety of equipment for patients recovering from a heart attack or other heart disease. We evaluate patients for their heart disease risk factors and create a plan that can help prevent future heart problems.

Gym Equipment

  • Four treadmills
  • Four bikes (two recumbent, two upright)
  • Two elliptical trainers
  • One arm ergometer
  • Chest and back resistance training machine
  • Leg resistance training machine
  • Free weights

Bi-Monthly Education Classes

portion sizes

Diet/Nutrition Classes

Our diet and nutrition classes teach skills for helping you navigate heart-healthy eating. Topics include: 

  • how to read food labels and nutrition facts panels,
  • how to control portions, and
  • how to reduce sodium in your diet.

Our registered dietitian teaches these classes monthly.

Medication Management/Pharmacy Class

In our medications class, a clinical pharmacist will teach you about a variety of medications you may need to take after your heart condition. Our instructor will discuss why you’re taking these medications as well as any interactions you need to be aware of. Our medications class offers a rare opportunity to sit down face-to-face with a pharmacist and ask them questions about your medications.

Emotional Wellness & Stress Management Class

In this class, a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) discusses emotional wellness and support, looking at how stress and anxiety can affect your heart health. This class is a good opportunity to share support with peers. Our LCSW is a personal resource for you throughout the program if you need it.

Exercise Class

Our exercise class teaches patients how important it is to live an active lifestyle. We teach exercise methods such as balance and gait techniques in a group setting.

free weights

Phases of Cardiac Rehab

Phase I

Phase I begins when you are inpatient in the hospital (while you are staying at the hospital). Our cardiac rehab exercise specialists will begin to walk with you and introduce you to the program goals.   

Phase II

During phase II, you will exercise in University of Utah Health’s outpatient cardiac rehab gym. We have locations at University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City and at U of U Health’s South Jordan Neighborhood Health Center in Daybreak, Utah. This is a 12-week (up to 36 sessions) program that allows for continuous telemetry monitoring during your work outs. 

Phase III

We partner with University of Utah Health’s bariatric surgery services to provide services and support for patients while they are going through medically supervised weight loss. This phase is available for patients who may not have cardiovascular disease. We offer a self-pay option for patients since insurance does not cover this phase.

Phase IV

Once you have completed Phase II or Phase III, you can then join our Phase IV program. This gives you an opportunity to continue making exercise and lifestyle changes through non-telemetry monitored exercises. During this phase, you will come to our outpatient gym and you will be supervised by one of our staff members. The goal of this phase is to continue to encourage an active lifestyle for our patients. 

Hear From Our Patient

Welster Santos couldn't figure out why he was feeling so sluggish. He was an active 68-year-old guy who loved going on extensive three-day hikes with a group of buddies. Lately, Welster had been feeling run down and winded after even mild exertion. When had walking become so hard?