Topic Overview

After you start a cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) program, you will work with many health professionals. Each will have a specific role in your rehab.

While you are in rehab, make sure to stay in touch with your doctor or other health professionals who can keep track of your progress and health. You will probably keep in close contact with your primary care physician and your cardiologist. Also, be aware of any local rehab programs or support groups.

Remember, everyone's experience is different. A variety of health professionals can help guide you through your treatment.

Understanding your providers' roles

You may need a team of health professionals to help treat your heart condition and manage your treatment plan. This team includes specialists and generalists. You may not need help from all of these providers. But be aware of the different types you may see. When you understand their roles, you can get the most out of their expertise.

This table outlines the types of health professionals who may be involved in your treatment.

Your health care team
Team member Who are they? What is their role? When would you see them?
Primary care physician Family doctor, general practitioner They manage your medical care. Regular visits (about 2 to 4 each year)
Cardiologist, internist Heart specialist, including cardiac electrophysiologist They give specialty medical care for your heart. Sometimes for regular visits, or whenever your condition changes
Other specialist physicians Nephrologist (kidney specialist), neurologist (brain/nerve specialist), lipid disorder specialist, endocrinologist, or physiatrist (rehab specialist) They give specialty medical care in their area of specialization. Whenever complications arise or special procedures need to be done
Cardiac surgeon A physician specialist trained to operate on your heart They perform surgeries, such as coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgeries and heart transplants. If you are considering a cardiac surgery or to follow up after the surgery
Nurse/nurse practitioner/nurse educator Type of nurse They educate you and help you take control of your condition. Whenever your medicines or diet or self-management need to be explained
Rehab nurse or occupational therapist Specific type of professional or nurse They help with building up your strength during recovery and rehab. While you are in the hospital and after discharge
Physiotherapist or exercise physiologist Expert in improving health through exercise They help you plan and maintain appropriate exercise and lifestyle behaviours. Inpatient recovery and outpatient rehab
Registered dietitian/ nutritionist Expert in diet and nutrition They help you plan and stay with an appropriate diet. For help creating a heart-healthy diet that works for you
Psychiatrist/ psychologist/ social worker/ case manager Mental health professional (except the case manager) who helps coordinate care and provider services They help you cope with psychological aspects of your condition. They also help coordinate your care and services. Regularly (perhaps weekly), for as long as needed
Pharmacist Pharmacology professional They answer questions about how often to take your drugs and the side effects they might cause. Whenever you need prescriptions filled

Related Information


Other Works Consulted

  • Thompson PD (2015). Exercise-based, comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation. In DL Mann et al., eds., Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine, 10th ed., vol. 1, pp. 1015-1020. Philadelphia: Saunders.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Donald Sproule, MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer John A. McPherson, MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology
Richard D. Zorowitz, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Current as ofSeptember 21, 2016