The Difference Between a Pulmonary Rehab and Cardiac Rehab

What Is Cardiopulmonary Rehab?

Many people are aware that cardiac rehabilitation (heart rehab) and pulmonary rehabilitation (lung rehab) are two separate medical programs. However, there’s a close relationship between your heart and lung health and an overlap in symptoms when either is in distress.

For example, a patient with shortness of breath may need pulmonary rehab. However, a patient with shortness of breath, leg swelling, and chest pain have overlapping medical conditions that may require cardiopulmonary rehab.

Cardiopulmonary rehabilitation recognizes and addresses those overlaps. It combines preventive medicine, healthier lifestyle choices, exercises, and therapies designed to improve the quality of life of patients who have heart disease, lung disease, or both. A rehab approach like this ensures that patients receive the right care according to the nature of their concerns.

The Difference Between a Pulmonary and Cardiac Rehab Program

The goals of cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation aren’t completely identical. Cardiac rehab programs aim to improve physiological, psychological, and social functioning through exercise training and lifestyle changes. The goal is to slow or reverse the patient’s heart disease and stabilize him to avoid any future cardiac episodes.

Consider a patient who has blocked arteries. With healthy dieting, consistent exercise, and other lifestyle changes, he can improve his blood flow. The cardiac rehabilitation process involves training and educating patients on how to slow or reverse their heart disease.

On the other hand, pulmonary health problems can only be minimized. The goal of a pulmonary rehabilitation program is to help patients reduce symptoms, stabilize conditions, and optimize their physical abilities.

For example, patients who have lung cancer or severe emphysema will always have to deal with their conditions. Once it develops, it won’t go away. However, pulmonary rehab makes chronic lung disease easier to manage, which lessens its negative impact on the patient’s quality of life.

While many providers have both cardiac and pulmonary programs, each program is siloed. This means a cardiologist runs the cardiology program, while a pulmonologist runs the pulmonary program. However, the programs are complementary. Many patients have both diseases, common risk factors, and overlapping symptoms, so it’s easier to address their needs in a cardiopulmonary rehab center. Both groups need assistance in management, education, and rehab.

How Cardiopulmonary Rehab Sets Your Hospital Apart

Marquis Health Services educates teams on combining cardiac and pulmonary rehab into a single, comprehensive cardiopulmonary rehabilitation program. Our goal isn’t to lump patients together but to ensure that they have the specialized care they need for all symptoms they may have. We show centers how to have hospital specialists run their cardiopulmonary programs, and they have experience identifying whether patients are experiencing problems with their cardiac or pulmonary health.

The value of having multidisciplinary specialists at the head of rehab programs is evident in the patient’s journey. Cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialists are trained to help patients who have been diagnosed with one or more cardiac or pulmonary diseases. They understand the different goals of each type of rehab program and have the experience necessary for helping patients achieve appropriate goals.

The patient meets the specialist soon after being stabilized or diagnosed. This time can be unnerving for patients, and one of the first goals for the specialists is to help them understand what happened and why. After, specialists and patients can work together with physicians and other specialists to identify risk factors, treatment plans, and an appropriate rehabilitation program.

Depending on the pulmonary or cardiac symptoms patients experience, they may benefit from committing to a cardiopulmonary rehab program.


Read next on What to Expect in Cardiac Rehab Program.

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