Is it safe to exercise if I have heart problems?

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If you have currently been diagnosed as having a heart problem you will need to be released by a cardiologist before engaging in exercise. A cardiologist will need to perform a thorough evaluation, including a physical, an electrocardiogram (EKG), and a stress test.  If after the evaluation, the cardiologist has released you for exercise it would be a good idea to have your program designed and supervised by a qualified fitness professional with advanced training in exercise prescription for people with chronic health issues.  

Joanne Duncan-Carnesciali, CPT,NASM Elite Trainer
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
As an ACSM Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist, I understand your question as asking is exercise safe for individuals with diagnosed cardiac disease.

There are many variables to consider such as the type and severity of your condition, whether your condition is controlled or not.  If your condition is not stable then it would not be safe for you to engage in physical activity until it is under control.  Once it is under control, there are guidelines established by the American College of Sports Medicine in addition to the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation that clinicians in cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation utilize as a guide in writing exercise prescriptions for individuals with heart disease.

To reach your fitness goal without having to worry whether your heart will be healthy enough to exercise, I would recommend contacting a Cardiologist so he can put you through an exercise stress test. This will give you the peace of mind to reach your fitness goal in a safe manner.  The stress test can give the Cardiologist important information on how well your heart performs under stress. 

After you are cleared to start an exercise program, I would recommend finding a fitness professional that has the knowledge and skills to work with someone with heart problems.  They will be able to create an individualized exercise program that will progress you safely through cardiorespiratory and resistant training programs. 



Kathy Shain
Fitness
You would first need the OK from your Cardiovascular Doctor. He may have you begin your workouts in a hospital based Cardiovascular Rehabilitation program. In the first stage of cardiac rehab your blood pressure and heart rhythms will be monitored. There will also be equipment available if an emergency should occur. After you progress through all stages of cardiac rehab, your doctor may then allow you to workout on your own.
If you have heart problems, the American Diabetes Association recommends you have an exercise stress test before you start exercising. An exercise stress test shows how a workout affects your heart and blood pressure. The test also helps to detect "silent" heart disease (heart disease that has no symptoms), which is more common in people who have diabetes.
During an exercise stress test, you walk on a treadmill while your heart function and blood pressure are monitored. You start at a slow pace and gradually build up until you get tired or something unusual shows up on the monitor. The test usually lasts a few minutes and rarely lasts longer than 20 minutes. After the test is done, the doctor who did the test will tell you about the results, including any problems that need treatment and any conditions you need to take into account when you exercise.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.