If you’ve had a heart attack, heart surgery, or other cardiac event, your doctor may have recommended a cardiac rehab program. Also called cardiac rehabilitation, cardiac rehab is an outpatient program that can help strengthen your heart and lower your risk of heart problems in the future.\nHere are some tips to help you make the most of cardiac rehab.\nCardiac Rehab Tip 1: Start your program as soon as your doctor tells you it’s OK\nEveryone will have a different recovery time after a heart attack or other heart-related event. Your doctor will let you know when it’s safe to begin a cardiac rehab program.\nOnce you get the OK from your doctor, start your cardiac rehab program as soon as you can. Studies show that cardiac rehab can help you live longer and avoid future heart problems.\nCardiac Rehab Tip 2: Ask questions\nYour cardiac rehab team, which may include a doctor, nurse, registered dietitian, and an exercise specialist, will develop a rehab plan based on your individual needs. This plan will include exercise, which you’ll do at a cardiac rehab clinic under the supervision of your rehab team, as well as lifestyle changes that you’ll need to make based on your risk factors.\nBe sure to ask questions about your plan so that you understand what you’re supposed to do, how you’re supposed to do it, and why. If you’re unsure about anything – from how fast you should be walking on the treadmill, to how much salt you can have in your diet \u2014\u00a0ask your rehab team.\nCardiac Rehab Tip 3: Make healthy changes\nTo help protect your heart from future damage, you may need to make lifestyle changes. These can include:\n\nTaking medications\u00a0to lower your blood pressure or cholesterol levels\nChoosing a healthier diet that is lower in sodium, fat, and sugar, and higher in fiber\nGetting regular physical activity\nQuitting smoking or using tobacco products\nFinding healthy ways to cope with stress\n\nYour cardiac rehab team will help you make changes step by step and connect you with other professionals \u2014 like smoking cessation experts and counselors \u2013 that can help you stick with your plan not only during rehab, but also after you finish your program.\nCardiac Rehab Tip 4: Tell your rehab team about any symptoms you have\nSome people may have chest pain after a heart attack, known as angina, which may feel like squeezing, burning, heaviness, or tightness beneath your breastbone. Make sure you tell your rehab team about any symptoms you have during exercise, like chest pain, fatigue, or dizziness.\nAnd, remember: Even if you’ve had a heart attack before, each heart attack can have different symptoms. If you think you’re having a heart attack, call 911 right away.\nCardiac Rehab Tip 5: Talk about how you feel emotionally, too\nMany people feel scared, anxious, or depressed after a heart-related event. Tell your cardiac rehab team about how you’re feeling – not only physically, but also emotionally. Your team can connect you with support groups and counselors who can help.\nCardiac Tip 6: Keep up with your lifestyle changes after your program ends\nCardiac rehab can give you the tools you need to help lower your risk of a future heart problem, not only in the weeks and months that follow your heart attack or surgery, but for the rest of your life as well. Once your program ends, continue:\n\nChoosing heart-healthy foods\nGetting regular physical activity\nAvoiding tobacco\nManaging stress in healthy ways\n\nTo learn more, visit the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute or call 1-855-UPMC-HVI (876-2484).