Cardiac Rehabilitation Program | Heart & Vascular Care | Medstar Health

A medically supervised exercise program to help you safely recover from a cardiac event

Cardiac rehabilitation plays an important role in your recovery from heart disease or a cardiac event such as a heart attack or heart surgery. It also can improve your stamina if you have heart failure. We have cardiac rehabilitation facilities across the Maryland/D.C. area, so you can get expert care close to home.

The teams in our cardiac rehabilitation programs are led by exercise physiologists, who work with a medical director, dietitians, physical therapists, counselors, and your cardiologist to ensure that you exercise safely without putting too much stress on your heart.

Benefits of cardiac rehabilitation

Cardiac rehab has been shown to increase a person’s chances of living longer following a heart event.

Other benefits can include:

  • Decreased pain and the need for medications to treat your disease
  • Emotional support and decreased stress during recovery
  • Improved stamina, endurance, and overall strength
  • Improved quality of life by making it easier to work, take part in social activities, and stay independent
  • Reduced risk of future heart events, hospital stays, and other heart-related complications

We show you how to use equipment such as stationary bicycles, treadmills, ellipticals, seated steppers, stair climbers, and resistance training machines to offer a full-body workout and safely improve your heart’s strength.

Who should participate in cardiac rehabilitation?

Patients who have one of the following conditions or treatments may benefit from cardiac rehabilitation:

What to expect from our cardiac rehabilitation program

A medically supervised exercise program to help you safely recover from a cardiac event

MedStar Health's cardiac rehabilitation program is designed for patients who need assistance in getting back to their former level of physical endurance and self-sufficiency after an acute care stay for medical and/or surgical treatment of cardiac disease. Unlike other programs that offer only medical or rehabilitation care, our cardiac rehabilitation program is unique in that it provides a combination of services from a diversified team of board-certified clinicians.

Program Highlights

  • Therapy in our cardiac gym five days a week
  • Specialized EKG-monitored exercise therapy under the supervision of doctors, nurses, and an exercise physiologist
  • Heart function and rhythm monitoring as a patient moves through a series of progressively more-intense activities
  • Therapy sessions that address bathing, dressing, walking, using stairs, and getting out of bed
  • Education on ways to prevent the progression of heart disease and manage the psychological impact on health
  • Weekly cardiac support group

Before discharging a patient, our team will recommend services that will ease a patient’s transition to the next level of care. This might include outpatient services, skilled nursing facilities, or home care through the MedStar Visiting Nurse Association. Our job is to build a roadmap for your recovery — and to support you along the journey as you rebuild your life.

Our outpatient and inpatient cardiac rehabilitation programs are designed to help you learn heart-healthy habits and gain emotional support from other participants who have had similar experiences. We also offer weekly education sessions in a group setting to ensure you have the tools and knowledge to live a heart-healthy life. We’ll help you gain valuable insight into how your heart works and how you can help it work better.

Topics may include:

  • Blood pressure and cholesterol management
  • Healthy lifestyle habits
  • Heart-healthy nutrition
  • Heart medications
  • Stress management

Program Outcomes

Numbers tell the story—of success, satisfaction, and hundreds of lives restored to health, function and happiness. To learn more about our program outcomes, please click here.

Medical fitness

Medical Fitness is a medically supervised exercise program primarily beneficial for individuals who have recently completed a Cardiac Rehab program but is not limited to just those with heart disease. A personalized exercise prescription is created for you by our Exercise Physiologists who also help you monitor and track important vital signs such as heart rate, blood pressure, and blood glucose (if diabetic) before, during, and after your exercise.

Monthly activity logs with vital signs and exercise information can be provided to show your referring physician your progress and success with a regular exercise regimen.

Medical Fitness requires a referral from your physician in order to begin and is not covered by medical insurance. The cost of the Medical Fitness program is $30 per month.

Outpatient cardiac rehabilitation

Your cardiac rehabilitation team will review your medical history and monitor your heart rate and electrocardiogram (ECG) readings while you complete a low-intensity exercise test. They’ll use this information to create a personalized exercise program and help you gradually increase the intensity and duration of exercise to progress safely toward recovery and independent fitness activities.

We encourage you to attend the program for one hour of exercise training three times a week. The number of supervised exercise sessions depends on your individual needs and your insurance coverage, which we’ll review before you begin the program.

Inpatient cardiac rehabilitation

MedStar National Rehabilitation Network’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program provides advanced assistance to help you return to your former level of physical endurance and self-sufficiency after an acute care stay for treatment of heart disease.

Highlights of the inpatient program include:

  • Education on how to prevent the progression of heart disease and manage the psychological impact on your health
  • Heart function and rhythm monitoring as you move through a series of progressively more intense activities under the supervision of doctors, exercise physiologists, and nurses in our cardiac gym five days a week
  • Therapy sessions that focus on bathing, dressing, getting out of bed, walking, and using stairs
  • Weekly cardiac support group sessions



An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG, measures the heart’s electrical activity.

Stress Tests

Stress tests are used to assess how your heart works during physical activity. There are several types of stress tests, including treadmill or bike stress tests, nuclear stress tests, stress echocardiograms, and chemically induced stress tests.

Our locations

Distance from Change locationEnter your location

MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center

9000 Franklin Square Dr.
Baltimore, MD 21237

MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital

5601 Loch Raven Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21239

MedStar Montgomery Medical Center

18101 Prince Philip Dr.
Olney, MD 20832

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

7503 Surratts Rd.
Clinton, MD 20735

MedStar St Mary's Hospital

25500 Point Lookout Rd.
Leonardtown, MD 20650

MedStar Union Memorial Hospital

201 E. University Pkwy.
Baltimore, MD 21218

MedStar Washington Hospital Center

110 Irving St. NW
Washington, DC 20010

Frequently asked questions

  • Who should attend cardiac rehab?

    You may benefit from cardiac rehabilitation if you have had one of the following conditions or treatments:

  • When should I start cardiac rehab?

    Every person is different. You may start as early as a week after you leave the hospital, or you may need to wait for several weeks to give your body time to heal and recover. Scheduling and insurance processes usually allow patients to start one to two weeks after contacting a cardiac rehab program.

  • How long is each session, and how many should I attend?

    Each session lasts between 45 and 90 minutes, depending on your fitness level and progress. It is generally recommend at you attend three sessions a week for the most health benefits. In general, cardiac rehab attendance ranges from 12 to 36 sessions. However, it will depend on a variety of factors, including your cardiologist’s recommendation, insurance, your risk factors, previous experience with exercise, and severity of your heart disease.

  • How much does cardiac rehab cost?

    Cardiac rehab is a medical program. Many insurance plans cover most or all of the cost. Copays and prior authorizations will be checked before you begin.

  • What do I need to begin?

    Your cardiologist will write a referral, which you can take to the MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute program closest to you. We have facilities across the Maryland/D.C. area. Your care team can tell you more about the program closest to you. If your cardiologist does not have their own referral form, contact the cardiac rehab program directly, and they can send the forms to your doctor.

  • What if I have never exercised before?

    Don’t worry. The point of cardiac rehab is to introduce you to regular exercise in a safe and fun environment. Over time, you’ll be able to exercise more as you become healthier and more confident.

  • What if I already exercise regularly?

    Cardiac rehab is different than going to the gym. Cardiac rehab programs make sure that you’re exercising at the appropriate intensity before you begin exercising on your own again.

Read our Cardiovascular Performance & Outcomes Booklet


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