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Phase 3 Cardiac Rehab - What Is It?

If you are someone who has completed Phase 1 and 2 cardiac rehab, or was referred by a physician, Phase 3 cardiac rehab is something that heart failure patients may want to consider. Personally, as a heart failure patient, I have participated in it (and still do) and find it beneficial.

What is Phase 3 cardiac rehab?

In my experience, it comes after Phase 1 and 2 cardiac rehab, and is offered anywhere that has cardiac rehab programs.

For example, I have participate in Phase 3 rehab with Henry Ford Health and Michigan Medicine, two of the largest hospital systems near where I live.

In Phase 3 you remain working out in the cardiac rehab area (similar to Phases 1 and 2), so you are in close proximity to exercise physiologist(s) who understand cardiac conditions should it be needed.

Also like Phase 1 and 2, there is also some monitoring in the form of checking your vitals to ensure stability including blood pressure, pulse and oxygen.

However, unlike Phases 1 and 2, you are not hooked up to any EKG monitoring. Phase 3 is more independent. You may be given exercises and a workout routine by exercise physiologist, and some places offer group classes, but you go at your own pace and at times that work for you.

My experience

In my experience, while it is less structured, there is still structure. For me, Phase 3 rehab started with an evaluation with a exercise psychologist. They have a conversation about your medical history, physical abilities, your goals and take some measurements.

For example, at Michigan Medicine they also measured my weight, body fat, lean muscles and water content. They then talked about specific measurables that make sense for me, and said that they would develop weight-lifting exercises and machine-based workout goals in line with my capabilities and heart condition. As I start in the program, there will be periodic check-ins to see if workout routine needs to be adjusted as well.

What I found beneficial about this program

A benefit, in my experience, is that it was a smaller environment and the same people tend to participate, allowing me to develop relationships and friendships. I felt a part of a community. As a friendly reminder, as far as support, you are also surrounded by professionals and healthcare facilities should you need more support and/or urgent medical attention.

As far as financially, Phase 3 is not covered by insurance. With Michigan Medicine it is $40 per month. I would also call this a benefit though, because in my experience, when I pay for something I am more motivated to use it! It is also a month by month program, so you are not committed to a year long contract, etc.

Lastly, I think that this is a good option to consider as we are approaching colder weather. For me, my chest hurts much more often in cold and hot weather. In the summer, I can get my workouts done in the early morning or late at night, for the most part, when temperatures cool off. However, there is no break from the cold during the winter! For those who are seeking temperature controlled workout environments as we approach the winter months, this is an option to consider.

Also, because everyone also has a cardiac condition, I assume that we are all being COVID and flu cautious, which makes me more comfortable working out with my mask off!

Participating in a cardiac rehab program as a heart failure patient

To find Phase 3 Cardiac rehab programs in your area, I would consider the largest hospital systems in your area and/or ask your medical team. A interventional cardiologist or heart failure doctor, and maybe cardiologist (?), can refer you to Phase 3 cardiac rehab. Since it's not covered by insurance, you do not need to get insurance approval.

Has anyone else participated in Phase 3 cardiac rehab as a heart failure patient? What are/were your thoughts as compared going to a regular gym?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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