How Cardiac Rehab Can Help After a Heart Attack

February is American Heart Month, a month-long observance that aims to educate the public and encourage them to adopt heart healthy habits. You’re likely familiar with steps you can take to keep your heart healthy, like eating well, exercising regularly, and managing stress. However, many people are less familiar with resources available after a cardiac event like a heart attack. In honor of American Heart Month, get familiar with the resources available to you right here in Winterset.

Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised program designed to improve your cardiovascular health if you have experienced heart attack, heart failure, angioplasty or heart surgery. Its three main components are exercise counseling and training, education for heart-healthy living, and counseling to reduce stress. It involves different phases, beginning while you’re still in the hospital to ongoing exercise and support later on in your recovery.

Cardiac rehab has proven benefits for participants, but less than 20% of eligible patients take advantage of it. One main barrier is awareness. Prior to a heart attack, most people aren’t familiar with cardiac rehab so they don’t know it’s available when they need it. If your doctor hasn’t recommended cardiac rehab to you yet, discuss it with them and ask for a referral. Distance is another primary barrier, but fortunately Madison County Health Care System (MCHCS) offers cardiac rehab right here in Winterset. Additionally, affordable transportation is available through services like HIRTA public transit to residents in Madison County. Lack of a strong support system is another common issue, but not at MCHCS. Here cardiac rehab patients have formed their own regular “coffee club”. Along with highly trained staff, patients support each other through long term recovery.

MCHCS’s cardiac rehab program is certified by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. Certification is based on an extremely rigorous application process where programs must demonstrate expertise, quality, and good value for patients. MCHCS is also one of a limited number of organizations that offers Phase 3 cardiac rehab. During this phase, individuals exercise on their own to maintain their recovery, but due to the trauma of an unexpected heart attack, many are fearful of doing so. MCHCS offers an affordable option to exercise with peace of mind knowing medical staff is nearby.

If you’re interested in learning more about cardiac rehab, call us at (515) 462-5218 or visit us online at If cost is a concern for you, our Health & Rehab Services staff can help you determine your most affordable option upfront based on your individual insurance plan.