Cardiovascular rehabilitation is defined as the process of development and maintenance of a desirable level of physical, social, and psychologic functioning after the onset of a cardiovascular illness. Patient education, counseling, nutritional guidance, and exercise training play prominent roles in the process of rehabilitation. Benefits from cardiac rehabilitation include improved exercise capacity and decreased symptoms of angina pectoris, dyspnea, claudication, and fatigue. Recent pooled data regarding exercise training after myocardial infarction demonstrated a 20 to 25% reduction in mortality and major cardiac events. Exercise training may result in an improvement in systemic oxygen transport, a reduction in the myocardial oxygen requirement for a given amount of external work, and a decrease in the extent of myocardial ischemia during physical activity. The efficacy of modification of risk factors in reducing the progression of coronary artery disease and future morbidity and mortality has been established. Herein we review the history, current practice and results, and future challenges of cardiovascular rehabilitation.
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