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 What We Do

Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in Canada. A previous cardiovascular incident puts you at risk for future problems and even an early death. Participation in cardiovascular rehabilitation can reduce the odds of dying from another heart attack or stroke by 50%.

Building on an educational curriculum to assist in achieving health behaviour change, the Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Program is committed to helping you:

  • Take charge of your medical condition
  • Develop strategies to improve your risk factors for cardiovascular disease
  • Maintain an exercise program to improve your health and well being
  • Incorporate healthy food choices and practices to manage your health and well being
  • Develop strategies to manage your psychosocial risks for cardiovascular disease

The program will help you learn the skills to live and thrive with your cardiovascular condition. Using the Cardiac College – Living and Thriving with Cardiovascular Disease as a framework for discussion and behaviour change, the program staff will work with you to meet your goals.

We take an approach combining exercise and education. The Cardiac College supports you in making the necessary changes to improve health behaviours for long-term change. The multidisciplinary team – physicians, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, kinesiologists, dietitians, psychologists and social workers work together to support your rehabilitation journey. We have one of North America's largest and most comprehensive cardiovascular rehabilitation programs.

Programs/Services

  • Outpatient Cardiac Rehabilitation: a group-based outpatient exercise and education program.
  • Cardiac Rehab @ Home: exercise coaching by phone or email for people who cannot attend our on-site program.
  • Women with Heart: a unique cardiac rehabilitation program designed specifically for women.
  • Heart Failure, Exercise and Education:  cardiac rehabilitation program designed for people living with the challenges of chronic heart failure. Exercise is medically supervised and designed for individuals who get short of breath at low levels of activity. Education with a focus on self-management skills includes: sodium and fluid restrictions, energy conservation and heart failure medicines.
  • Diabetes, Exercise & Healthy Lifestyle: an education and exercise program focusing on a healthy life through diet, exercise and lifestyle, specifically for people diagnosed with diabetes.  
  • Risk Factor Modification and Exercise Following Stroke (TRI-REPS): a group program designed to help people who have had a stroke to improve fitness, endurance, and strength and to modify risk factors to help prevent a repeat stroke.
  • Health, Exercise, Active Living and Therapeutic Lifestyle (HEALTh) Program: a program designed specifically for women who are in treatment for or recovering from breast cancer.
  • Heart Health for Life: an education and peer support program for "graduates" of our other cardiac rehabilitation programs.

Outpatient Cardiac Rehabilitation Program

The program helps people with heart disease improve their cardiac health and fitness. It also helps them reduce their chance of future cardiac incidents through lasting lifestyle and behaviour changes.

The Cardiac College was developed specifically to help guide patients in developing positive and healthy behaviour to live and thrive with cardiovascular disease. Patients will learn skills to:

  • Build a foundation for a safe heart
  • Develop skills to take care of your heart
  • Prepare for life after rehab

The program is designed for people with:

  • Acute coronary syndrome
  • Angioplasty
  • Stable angina
  • Stable heart failure
  • Heart transplant
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Open heart surgery (including bypass and/or valve surgery)
  • Minor non-disabling stroke
  • Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs)
  • Other cardiovascular conditions (such as peripheral vascular disease)
  • High risk of heart disease because of their family history, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes

The Cardiovascular Rehabilitation program of education and exercise that includes 1 session per week at Rumsey Centre.

Additional Support for Lifestyle Changes

One-to-one counselling sessions with a psychologist or social worker are available for patients who meet the criteria or for selected patients to help deal with issues such as depression, anxiety, trouble sleeping, anger and social and emotional issues. 

One-to-one counselling with program registered dietitians, for patients who meet the criteria or for selected patients, will assist you to deal with issues related to healthy eating for your heart.

In group education sessions, a variety of topics will be discussed including:

  • Exercise safety and guidelines for sports and leisure activities
  • Stress management
  • Medications
  • Risk factors for heart disease
  • Heart-healthy nutrition

Family members are encouraged to attend these education sessions.

Providing a Safe, Personalized Program

Participants begin the program with a cardio-pulmonary exercise assessment. This measures their cardiovascular fitness. Based on the participant's needs, goals and fitness level, the team creates a personalized program of exercise and education.

Participants attend 1 supervised exercise class a week at our Rumsey site. The classes are offered during the day and evening, Monday to Friday. Each class has a warm-up and stretching routine, walking aerobics and resistance training (hand-held weights) and an interactive educational session. We also provide peer-to-peer support.

You'll be expected to carry out your own exercise program at home 4 more times a week and to keep a weekly diary to help you with your progress.

Exercise staff work closely with participants to help them achieve their goals and progress their exercise throughout the program.​

Maintaining Heart Health

Heart health is a lifelong commitment. To help graduates of our other cardiac rehab programs maintain their lifestyle changes, we offer a program called Heart Health for Life​. This includes education sessions, exercise programs and volunteer peer support opportunities to help you stay connected to a heart-healthy lifestyle. ​

How to Prepare

Your first appointment can take up to 2 hours. Please wear or bring comfortable clothes (shorts, t-shirts, button-front blouse for women).​ During this visit, you will complete a 12 Lead Electrocardiogram (ECG), body composition measurement and meet with a program physician to assess your progress following your heart event. Follow-up appointments usually take about an hour to 90 minutes.

Learn more about what you can expect when you have a clinic appointment.

 Materials and Resources to Help You

Visit our Health Information section to find dedicated resources to help you understand your condition. Find the information you're looking for.

​​​​​Our patients benefit from the expertise of a wide range of skilled rehabilitation professionals who work together to provide you with ​the best care possible following your heart event. Each team member contributes specialized knowledge to the care we provide.

Medical Director: Dr. Paul Oh​​

Senior Clinical Director: Patricia Mlekuz

Cardiac Rehab Manager: Valerie Skeffington​

Individuals receiving cardiac or diabetes rehabilitation will work with some or all of the following rehabilitation team members, depending on their needs:

  • ​​​Dietitians
  • Exercise rehabilitation supervisors
  • Exercise leaders
  • Lab technicians
  • Nurses or nurse practitioners
  • Physicians
  • Psychologists
  • Social Workers