Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Helping You Get Back to Your Life

After you’ve had a cardiac emergency, intervention, or surgery, returning to your normal routine is a top priority. Our cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation specialists will help you get there. They’ll be your partners in wellness and recovery throughout your treatment, and beyond.

Why Is Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Necessary?

Major events and surgeries, like a heart attack, heart surgery, or heart transplant, and even less-intensive procedures, like a stent intervention, take a toll on your body. It’s important to have the proper medical monitoring and guidance to regain your strength and move forward with an active, healthy lifestyle.

Cardiovascular rehabilitation is also beneficial for chronic conditions, such as vascular disease that causes pain or limits your walking ability, providing a monitored exercise program to help improve your mobility and quality of life.

The Benefits of Cardiovascular Rehabilitation

While it may require more time out of your schedule, cardiovascular rehabilitation will help you enjoy a healthier, more active lifestyle beyond recovery. ThedaCare’s cardiovascular rehabilitation programs offer:

  • Complete medical monitoring—Your heart rate and rhythm, blood pressure, blood sugar, and any symptoms you may be experiencing are monitored during each rehabilitation session.
  • On-site access to medical care—If you have an emergency, symptoms, or concern, the rehabilitation staff can assess the situation and immediately contact your doctors and specialists to treat any issues.
  • Individualized, monitored exercise progression

There’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach. You will receive an individualized treatment plan that is specifically tailored to your needs and goals. You’ll be encouraged to do only the level of activity that is right for you, with gradual progression based on how your body responds to the level of exercise performed. You’ll also receive guidance on when to return to household and recreational activities, when to return to work, and instructions on the amount and level of exercise to perform at home during your recovery, as well as a continued exercise plan to maintain your cardiovascular fitness.

  • Education and support—Recovery brings lots of anxiety about taking necessary time off from work or financial concerns. Facing lifestyle changes in diet and exercise can also be overwhelming.  We pride ourselves on treating the “total patient.” That means we focus not only on your physical recovery, but on your mental and emotional recovery, too. You’ll learn about risk factors and how to reduce your risk for future heart problems, healthy eating, medication management, and stress management and relaxation. You’ll also have access to one-on-one behavioral health counseling and support groups. Your spouse, partner, or other loved one is welcome to join you during any of these classes or sessions. 

    Learn more about ThedaCare’s Behavioral Health Services and support groups

Our programs are certified by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation so you can feel confident that you’re getting the highest level of care.

What to Expect

After your surgery or procedure, you’ll likely spend 4–5 days (or less) in the hospital recovering and doing inpatient therapy. Once you’re ready to be discharged, your inpatient rehabilitation specialist will get you set up in the outpatient cardiovascular rehabilitation program. It’s common for patients to start rehabilitation right away (sometimes as soon as one week after surgery). It may seem quick, but this allows us to closely monitor your recovery and treat any problems that may arise.

The environment at our rehabilitation locations is similar to a gym, with additional benefits like access to expert medical care and more personalized attention. Ideally, you’ll do continuous exercise on equipment such as treadmills, bikes, rowing machines, and stair-steppers three times a week to improve your endurance and the function of your heart and blood vessels. You’ll also do stretches or balancing activities, as well as strengthening exercises using dumbbells, exercise bands, or strength training equipment, so you can prepare for safely returning to work or your daily life.

Our friendly, open staff, which includes specialists in exercise science and exercise physiology, as well as cardiac-trained registered nurses, will support you every step of the way. They’ll keep you motivated, provide education and advice, and adjust your recovery plan as necessary to make sure you’re on track to get the best outcome.

And, because we offer rehabilitation programs at the Appleton Heart Institute at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Appleton, ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-NeenahThedaCare Medical Center-New London, and ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano, you can receive care at the location that’s most convenient for you, regardless of where you had your surgery or procedure.

Keep in mind, if you’d like to get cardiovascular rehabilitation, but your insurance doesn’t cover your diagnosis, a medical fitness program is available which provides the same monitoring and education as the outpatient rehabilitation program.

Continuing on the Path to Wellness

Typically, you’ll be in outpatient rehabilitation for 6–8 weeks, although most insurance plans cover up to 18 weeks. Follow-up visits are scheduled every few months for the first year. Once your outpatient program is complete, you are welcome to continue coming to one of our facilities to maintain your exercise and wellness regimen in a safe, familiar environment, surrounded by the staff and other patients with whom you’ve built a relationship.

We offer a very affordable maintenance program that can be paid (out of pocket) by the month or every three months, similar to a gym membership. You can then use the facility up to three times a week, at designated morning or afternoon times. Whether you continue your exercise routine at a ThedaCare facility or on your own, what’s most important is that you stick with it.