Cardiac Rehabilitation

If you’ve had a heart attack or heart surgery, or have a cardiovascular condition, your provider may refer you for cardiac rehabilitation.

University of Iowa Health Care’s medically supervised cardiac rehab program offers several resources to help you improve your heart health. These include:

  • Personalized exercise plans: We’ll teach you exercises that make your heart stronger and help you move more easily.
  • Educational classes: Our free classes cover topics like stress management and heart healthy diets.
  • One-on-one coaching and consultations: You can sign up for our smoking cessation program or schedule a nutrition assessment with one of our registered dietitians.

We’re also one of the few health systems nationwide that offers a virtual (telemedicine) program. This option is available to eligible patients who prefer to complete their cardiac rehab plan at home.

Our goal is to help you function and feel better, no matter what your age or fitness level.

How cardiac rehab works

Phase I cardiac rehab

Phase I cardiac rehab is also known as inpatient cardiac rehab.

You may need to stay in the hospital after certain heart procedures or a heart attack. If so, you’ll begin working with our cardiac rehab specialists before you’re discharged home.

We’ll help you perform simple exercises that build strength and stamina and lower your risk of complications.

Phase II cardiac rehab

Phase II is also called outpatient cardiac rehab. It’s a 12-week program that includes up to 36 sessions of monitored exercise. Eligible patients have the option of completing their sessions virtually or in person at UI Health Care–Iowa River Landing.

During this phase, you’ll work closely with our team of exercise physiologists, cardiac nurses, and other specialists. You also have access to our educational classes, smoking cessation program, and nutrition counseling.

Together we’ll help you improve your physical fitness and reduce your risk of additional heart problems. We can also help you learn how to build exercise and healthy eating into your daily routine.

Phase III cardiac rehab

Phase III is also known as our maintenance and prevention program. It’s an optional resource for phase II graduates who want to continue exercising at our cardiac rehab center. It’s also available to certain people who are high-risk for heart disease and have a referral from their provider.

Virtual cardiac rehab

If you want to do cardiac rehab from home and we’ve confirmed you can do so safely, you can take part in our virtual phase II program.

After you complete an in-person assessment, you’ll receive educational materials that cover topics like nutrition and heart-healthy lifestyle changes. We’ll also give you a customized, 12-week home exercise plan that’s based on:

  • Your physical abilities
  • Specific symptoms you need to improve
  • Any complications you should work to prevent
  • Your provider’s recommendations
  • Your personal goals

You’ll use an online tool to record your daily weight, blood pressure, and any other required measurements. This information is uploaded directly into your medical record, where it’s reviewed by our team.

You’ll also meet at least once each week, by video or phone, with one of our exercise physiologists. We’ll review your vital signs and activity for the week, and answer any questions you have.

How we help you make the most of cardiac rehab

We’ll guide you through your cardiac rehab journey and help you feel comfortable and confident at every step along the way. Throughout phase II, you can expect:

  • A functional assessment: Before you begin any exercises, you’ll undergo a functional evaluation. This assessment measures your strength, endurance, and other physical abilities. We use this information to create your exercise plan, which may include aerobic exercise, strength training, and stretches.
  • A facility orientation: If you plan to attend your exercise sessions in person, we’ll show you how to safely use our equipment. Depending on what’s included in your exercise plan, this may include treadmills, stationary bikes, and hand weights.
  • Ongoing monitoring: When you exercise at our facility, we’ll take various health measurements at each session. This includes your weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar level if you’re diabetic. We’ll also continuously record your heart rate and rhythm. This helps us see how your heart responds to different types and levels of exercises, and ensures you don’t exceed your target heart rate.
  • Family participation: Your loved ones can play an important role in helping you stick to your plan and meet your goals. Any family members who are involved in your care are welcome to attend your sessions or meetings.

Who can benefit from cardiac rehab?

Your doctor may refer you for cardiac rehab if you’ve recently had a heart attack or one of the following procedures:

You may also benefit from cardiac rehab if you’ve been diagnosed with one of the following conditions:

Do you think you would benefit from cardiac rehab?

If you’re living with angina, heart failure, or peripheral artery disease, cardiac rehab can help you improve your heart health. Talk to your cardiologist or primary care provider about getting a referral to our cardiac rehab program.