Cardiac rehab myths: Why some patients don’t follow through

U-M Celebrates National Cardiac Rehabilitation Week, Feb. 14 - 20


If you’ve had heart surgery or another heart-related procedure, cardiac rehab is likely an important part of your recovery. But national statistics reveal only 10 to 20 percent of those eligible for cardiac rehab actually participate in a program.

Here are some of the cardiac rehab myths that often prevent heart patients from following through:

Myth: I’m not sure rehab is safe for me.

Fact: Some patients shy away from rehab because they’re afraid they are not physically ready. The University of Michigan Cardiac Rehabilitation Program begins with a comprehensive screening process that allows us to catch potential health issues early. That means everyone who is deemed eligible to participate has been fully evaluated. Our staff members are fully educated with extensive cardiac care experience and a focus on safe rehab.

Myth: I don’t have time to work out.

Fact: Ongoing good health requires you to take something out of your life to add this important aspect into it. We accommodate all schedules, from 8 am to 4 pm. Once a patient has completed rehab, he or she can move on to the U-M fitness center at Domino’s Farms, which is open from 7 am to 6 pm. We also offer one-month, six-month and one-year follow-up sessions to check a patient’s exercise prescription and help reevaluate his or her goals.

Myth: I can’t afford it.

Fact: Medicare covers 80 percent of cardiac rehab for eligible patients, which includes 18 to 36 sessions — the time it normally takes to see results. Payment plans are also available. Remember, some form of exercise is better than nothing. So if you find you can only afford a few sessions, our team will teach you the most beneficial cardiac rehab techniques during the time you spend with us.

Myth: I know everything I need to know about my health.

Fact: The old saying, “You’re never too old to learn something new,” applies to your health. The U-M cardiac rehab team offers extensive expertise, not only in exercise, but also in nutrition and other lifestyle topics. Our staff also acts as a liaison between you and your doctor. Plus, you get emotional support and camaraderie as you meet others in a similar situation who understand your fears and feelings. Many patients find this emotional support is key to their recovery.

Take the next step:

  • Celebrate National Cardiac Rehabilitation Week, February 14-20, with the U-M Cardiac Rehabilitation team. Daily events are scheduled to motivate, reward and celebrate patients.
  • Attend the Cardiac Support Group held at the U-M Frankel Cardiovascular Center the first Monday of every month. 
  • The U-M Cardiac Rehabilitation Program has cared for thousands of U-M patients recovering from cardiac events over the last 25 years. For more information about the program, call Joseph Bryant at 734-998-4954.

CPLargeCarolyn Palka is an exercise physiologist responsible for case managing cardiac rehabilitation patients, including instruction in exercise health, nutrition, stress management and wellness at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. She also administers exercise testing for patients in stress echocardiograms, routine and VO2 testing. Carolyn is a member of the Patient and Family Centered Care team for Cardiac Rehabilitation.


Frankel-informal-vertical-sigThe University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at umcvc.org.