Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How do I get referred to the program?
Your doctor (family doctor, cardiologist or surgeon) can refer you to the program. Some hospitals refer to Cardiac Rehab automatically after a heart procedure or event. We can also accept referrals from diabetes educators, nurse practitioners and pharmacists. The referral form can be accessed here: Referral Form
What are the benefits of the program?
Attending Cardiac Rehab can help to reduce another admission to hospital by 25% and even reduce the chance of death after a heart event by 50%. We know this from research that was completed at UHN’s program.
Will I feel better after attending the program?
Many people report feeling improved energy and quality of life after attending the program, and some feel even better than they ever did! There are many benefits to regular exercise, such as: improved fitness level, increased muscle strength, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, better blood sugar management, better sleep, improved mood, and reduced cravings for smoking. Starting an exercise routine, along with taking prescribed medicine, eating a variety of nutritious foods, and managing stress are all action steps that work together to help someone feel better after a significant health event.
Who will contact me to get started? When?
Once the program receives your referral form, the team will review it and collect some clinical notes for your file. You will then receive a phone call to book your first appointment, which includes meeting with a doctor. At the end of the first appointment, you will make the second appointment to complete an exercise stress test. At the end of that appointment, you can choose the day and time of the weekly exercise class you would like to join. Wait times vary throughout the year, but this process usually takes a few weeks.
I recently did a stress test with my doctor. Do I need another stress test to start the program?
The type of stress test that is part of the program is different from a stress test used to diagnosis heart disease. This test is to measure your current level of fitness. You will walk on a treadmill or cycle a stationary bike, while your heart rate and blood pressure is being measured. You will also have on a nose clip and a mouthpiece which will collect the air you breath out during exercise. This is used to measure your fitness level. Your Cardiac Rehab Supervisor will then use this information to prescribe a specific intensity of exercise.
When can I start the program?
Everyone has had different procedures and may experience a different amount of time to heal after a procedure. In general, most people can safely start Cardiac Rehab 4-6 weeks after a heart event or procedure.
How much does the program cost?
The cost of the program including testing, exercise classes and access to the team of health professionals is covered by OHIP. There is paid parking available for when you visit onsite. Education material is available for free online, and printed material can be downloaded for free. There is an education book that can be purchased for $25 if you choose. There is no special exercise equipment that you need to buy. Comfortable shoes for walking will be important to prevent aches and pains with your feet, muscles and joints. Many muscle strengthening exercises can be done using your own body, so extra equipment such as hand-held weights or paying for a gym membership is optional.
How long is the program? How often do I have to attend?
After the first appointments for testing, the exercise program is 16 weeks long with weekly, one hour visits. Depending on the type of program you choose, these visits could be a combination of onsite and virtual visits, or fully virtual visits. There are also options if you need a shorter program or a one time consult for exercise guidelines and advice on managing your risk factors for heart disease.
What is a Hybrid program? What is a Virtual program?
A hybrid program involves a combination of onsite class visits and virtual visits. A Virtual program is when all of the class visits occur on the computer using Microsoft Teams. These programs have a telephone option as well if you don’t have access to the internet.
What is involved in the program? What kind of exercise will I do on the program?
A Cardiac Rehab program usually group based, and involves exercise at a facility, exercise on your own at home, and education about how to lead a heart healthy lifestyle and how to become stronger after a heart event. Each person will receive individual guidelines for exercise that will be enough to improve fitness over time, and not too much so that it is still safe. Aerobic exercise is any continuous movement for at least 10 minutes. This can include walking, cycling, swimming, jogging or an arm ergometer. Resistance Training involves a series of exercises that each help to strengthen different muscles using body weight, hand-held weights or exercise bands. You will be advised on how often to exercise in the week, the level of intensity to exercise, how many minutes to exercise, and what type of exercise to do. This information will be specific to your current level of fitness, and will progress over time as you become stronger.
What days and times are available to do the program?
The program offers classes and testing appointments Monday to Thursday mornings and afternoons, Friday mornings, and evenings on a Tuesday.
What other services are available as part of the program?
Along with the exercise program, there are group workshops about nutrition facilitated by dietitians, and workshops on emotional well-being and managing stress facilitated by a social worker and a psychologist. There is also opportunity meet individually with these team members during your program.
Where can I find more information about the program?
More information about UHN and the Cardiac Rehab program can be found here.
Patient education information can be found here. Health e-University is a website containing all the education material that is part of the program and is a reliable source of health information to patients and families after a heart event.
Within Health e-University, you will find THRiVE, a 12-week journey to better health thorough small weekly challenges focused on lifestyle change.