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Everything you want to try in cardiac rehabilitation

Relaxion, dancing, sex and praying: are they important parts of cardiac rehabilitation?

Cardiac rehabilitation helps patients to recover after a heart attack, cardiac surgery or other heart problems. One of the most valuable benefits of cardiac rehabilitation is improvement of patients’ quality of life. Usually, cardiac rehabilitation programs consist of exercise training, counselling and lifestyle education. Are there some other components that are useful in building a better life in cardiac patients?


Dr. D. Francis from London (Great Britain) talked about different relaxation techniques used in post-myocardial infarction patients. As components of relaxation training, breathing training, progressive muscle relaxation (small movements), images or verbal formulas are frequently used. Relaxation training has a number of positive effects (alleviation of anxiety and depression, preventing events) and also results in patients having a better ability to prevent and to treat stress in daily life. Full relaxation training programs consist of 10 hours of supervised sessions.

Dr. R. Bellardinelli from Italy presented data comparing traditional physical training and dancing, particularly in heart failure patients. It turned out that dancing and fitness of equal duration and intensity had a comparable impact on patient’s physical capacity. At the same time, the adherence as well as patients’ emotional status, were better in the dancing group.

Dr. E. Steinke from the USA reported that about 45-76% of patients after cardiac events and cardiac surgery, as well as heart failure patients, have lower sexual satisfaction. This is detected not only in men, but also in women. Depression substantially contributes to lower sexual satisfaction in cardiac patients.

Dr. C. Passino from Italy discussed the mechanisms of a positive impact of praying in cardiac patients. Praying was shown to reduce sympathetic activity, breathing rate, lung dead space, and change chemoreflex as well as baroreflex activity. 


The results presented point to the need for incorporating more options into usual cardiac rehabilitation programs. These new, but previously well known components may be special relaxation techniques, dancing, information on sexual aspects, and even praying.




Everything you want to try in cardiac rehabilitation

Notes to editor

This congress report accompanies a presentation given at the ESC Congress 2008. Written by the author himself/herself, this report does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Society of Cardiology.

The content of this article reflects the personal opinion of the author/s and is not necessarily the official position of the European Society of Cardiology.