Macksville Clinic - 2/12 Cooper St, Macksville, NSW, 2447 - Nambucca Heads Clinic - 20 Liston St, Nambucca Heads, NSW, 2448

Coronary Heart Disease

What is Coronary Heart Disease?

Coronary heart disease is chronic heart disease which occurs when the coronary arteries become narrowed, causing less blood going to the heart muscle than is needed.

What Causes Coronary Heart Disease?

Coronary heart disease is commonly seen when people age and is more common in males than in females. You are more likely to get this disease if you:

  • You smoke or have smoked
  • Have High blood pressure
  • Have High cholesterol
  • Have Diabetes
  • Have a poor diet
  • Lack in exercise
  • Obesity
  • Are older in age
  • Are a male
  • Have a family history of it
  • Have an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background.

Symptoms of coronary heart disease can be silent until angina or a heart attack occurs, and therefore many people do not realise they have coronary heart disease.

How do you know if you have Coronary Heart Disease?

Your GP will be able to help diagnose coronary heart disease, although commonly symptoms are silent. Since symptoms may be silent, if you have a history of this disease it is vital that you get yourself checked. Your GP will perform a range of test to determine if you have Coronary Heart Disease, how severe it is and may refer you to a specialist for assessment and treatment. Coronary Heart Disease is not curable so treatment plans are used to manage the condition and preventing the risk of future heart events, attacks or death.

It is important to stay healthy whilst have Coronary Heart Disease which includes:

  • Stopping smoking
  • Exercising (cardiac rehabilitation)
  • Managing weight and diet
  • Possibly taking medications to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.

For people with unstable or more severe disease, the medical management may also include heart surgery.

How can physiotherapy help with Coronary Heart Disease?

Physiotherapy is important in the management of coronary heart disease as patients that undergo heart surgery physiotherapy can help you recover. Our physiotherapists should see you before and after your surgery to help prevent a chest infection and regain your mobility and walking as soon as possible.

What is Cardiac Rehabilitation?

Cardiac rehabilitation is a program for people with a variety of cardiovascular diseases and the most common part of this type of rehabilitation is exercise training. The program should involve educating and supporting the patient about managing the disease whilst reducing risk factors. Your physiotherapists will measure your exercise capacity, your symptoms and your safety for exercise in which they can teach you how to do the exercises and then supervise you exercising. The programs are located at local hospitals or community centres around Australia. For more information ask your GP or Physiotherapist.

When should I start Cardiac Rehabilitation?

There are three types of cardiac rehabilitation.

Phase I occurs in the hospital straight after surgery. It includes:

  • Gentle exercises and education on the things to do and not to do to help your recovery.
  • Possibly provide you with a home-exercise program to start once you get home.

Phase II cardiac rehabilitation occurs in the outpatient setting after discharge from hospital following surgery and stenting.

Phase III is a long-term maintenance program running in the community for people who have already completed the other phases.

What is the role of Physiotherapy before and

Physiotherapy before heart surgery may involve breathing exercises and education and after surgery (after first day) involves helping you get out of bed and start walking, as well as the prescription and supervision of exercise in the Phase I cardiac rehabilitation class. A physiotherapist will also give you advice on what to do and not do after surgery during the recovery.

How effective is physiotherapy for Coronary Heart Disease?

Through a large body of research, there is strong evidence that cardiac rehabilitation reduces hospital readmissions and death within the first year of a cardiac event in which it also:

  • Speeds up recovery
  • Reduces risk factors
  • Improves fitness levels
  • Reduces smoking
  • Reduces further hospitalisations or cardiac events
  • Improves quality of life.

What can I do at home?

It is important to manage your condition at home, it is possible to discuss options with your GP and Physiotherapy about a self-management plan. This may include exercises, avoiding sedentary time and setting safe limits for yourself.

If you would like to find out more please call us or book an appointment here.

Back to Physiotherapy for Your Chest 

Reference: Australian Physiotherapy Association 2019, Your Body, viewed 19 November 2019, <>.