Cardiac Rehabilitation
What to Expect

What to Expect at Your First Cardiac Rehabilitation Appointment

Cardiac Rehabilitation Program offers exercise two types of appointments:

  • Cardiac rehabilitation. These appointments include activities to help your child develop a heart-healthy lifestyle.
  • Exercise testing. Exercise testing allows us to evaluate your child’s response to maximal exercise testing. This testing typically involves riding a stationary bicycle. Sometimes we will use a treadmill instead.

Both types of appointments take place at the Heart Institute Clinic, located in C4 at Cincinnati Children’s main campus. Please plan to spend between 60 and 90 minutes at your child’s appointment.

During your visit, you will meet members of our care team, such as exercise physiologists (fitness and exercise experts), cardiovascular technologists, and physicians specializing in pediatric cardiology, pulmonology, sports medicine or surgery. Our staff is friendly and knowledgeable. You are in safe hands!

Below is information that explains how to prepare for both types of appointments and what to expect.

Making an Appointment

Before you schedule your first appointment, your child’s physician or nurse practitioner must submit a referral (for cardiac rehabilitation) or test order (for an exercise test).

Please contact us to schedule the test or appointment.

Before Your Visit

Cardiac Rehabilitation

If your child’s provider submits a referral for cardiac rehabilitation, our exercise physiologist or program coordinator will call you on the phone. The purpose of this call is to:

  • Assess your interest in cardiac rehabilitation
  • Ensure that your child needs and is eligible for cardiac rehab
  • Collect information about your child’s symptoms and health history
  • Answer any questions you have

Cardiac Testing

If your child’s provider submits a referral for exercise testing, one of our exercise physiologists will call you if we need additional information about your child.

On the Day of Your Appointment

For both types of appointments:

  • Your child should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes and gym shoes.
  • Bring your insurance card and any medication your child may need during the appointment.

If your child’s appointment is for cardiac rehab, it’s OK for them to do their usual activities on the day of the appointment, including eating normally and taking regular medicines.

If your child’s appointment is for exercise testing:

  • Your child may take their regular medicines on the day of the appointment.
  • No food or caffeinated beverages three hours before the test.
  • Clear liquids only one hour before the test.

What to Expect at the Appointment

Plan to arrive at the hospital about 30 minutes before your appointment time. You will need about 20 minutes to park and walk to the clinic. If you are running late, please contact us.

What Happens at the First Cardiac Rehabilitation Appointment?

During your child’s first cardiac rehab visit:

  • You will complete a questionnaire about your child’s health history.
  • You will meet with an exercise physiologist, who will talk to you about the cardiac rehab program and answer any questions you have
  • The exercise physiologist will measure your child’s body composition, flexibility, strength and functional aerobic capacity. This will help our team evaluate your child’s progress throughout the cardiac rehab program.

At the end of the appointment, you’ll receive a written after-visit summary that includes a personalized plan for cardiac rehab (we’ll share this information with your child’s referring provider, too).

Before you go home, the care team will let you know when to schedule your next cardiac rehab appointment.

What Happens at the First Cardiac Appointment?

Before the test takes place:

  • You will complete an electronic questionnaire about your child’s health history.
  • You and your child will meet with an exercise physiologist, who will talk with you about the exercise test and answer any questions you have.
  • The exercise physiologist will assess your child’s body composition and strength.

The test itself typically involves riding a stationary bicycle. During the test, exercise physiologists will monitor your child’s heart rate and rhythm using an electrocardiograph. Additionally, they will monitor your child’s blood pressure using a blood pressure cuff and stethoscope. Also, the exercise physiologists will monitor your child’s breathing and pulmonary response to exercise by having your child breath into a mouthpiece during the test.

After the test, the exercise physiologist will let you know if everything went well and when you should expect to receive the test results and care recommendations.

If the test doesn’t go well or the exercise physiologist is concerned about initial findings, a physician will meet with you before you leave the hospital to talk about the results and next steps.

We will send your child’s test results and care recommendations to the referring provider. Depending on the test results, our recommendations could include changing your child’s medical or surgical management plan.

If You Have Questions or Concerns

If you have questions or concerns before or after your appointment, please contact us. We are here to provide you and your family with the support and information you need.