Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Program

About the Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Program

The Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Program was designed to provide you with education, counselling, and guided exercise to help lead a healthy and independent lifestyle. We developed our program using the latest evidence based information available about cardiovascular disease rehabilitation. Our interprofessional Rehabilitation Team personalizes the program to best suit your goals and abilities.

Joining the program is by referral only from a specialist or your primary care provider (family physician or nurse practitioner). If you do not have a primary care provider, you may also be referred by a physician or nurse practitioner at a walk-in clinic, or by another physician including doctors in the Emergency Department. Generally speaking, people who have suffered a heart attack or similar heart event due to cardiovascular disease can be referred to the program.

Please note that a referral is not a guarantee that you will be accepted into the program. We review each referral to ensure that the person meets the program’s criteria. (Primary care providers or referring specialists can read the complete list of criteria here.

Services are offered through our offices in Thunder Bay as well as 12 sites throughout Northwestern Ontario via the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN).

Our team developed a 16-week hybrid program during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was so we could safely offer the same education, counselling, care, and individualized exercise prescription development, while also physical distancing. The process (see below) is similar for both the virtual program and the hybrid program. In some cases, the program may be offered as a mix of virtual and in-person programming. We will send you information outlining what you can expect once you have been successfully referred to the program.

The Process – Thunder Bay

Step 1 – Orientation

During orientation, you’ll learn all about the Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Program, what we have to offer, and how to prepare for your upcoming appointments. We’ll also start the education portion of the program, providing you with information about cardiovascular risk factors and what you can start doing to reduce your risk. If you are accessing the program virtually, we’ll explain what’s needed to connect with your team online.

Step 2 – Your Initial Appointments

During your first in-person or virtual appointments, you’ll meet with a member of our Rehabilitation Team, specifically a Registered Nurse, followed by an appointment with the program physician or nurse practitioner. During these appointments, we’ll discuss your cardiovascular diagnosis, current medications, and health history. We will also take your vital signs to help us monitor your resting vitals throughout the program and your bodies response to exercise.

Step 3 – Complete a 6 Minute Walk Test or Regular Exercise Stress Test (If Required)

Your Rehabilitation Team may order a 6 Minute Walk test or regular exercise stress test for you. A 6 Minute Walk Test measures your functional capacity and will be monitored by one of our registered Kinesiologists. A Regular Exercise Stress Test measures any changes in your heart during regular exercise and is supervised by a healthcare team for safety. Not all participants will require a regular exercise stress test. Your Rehabilitation Team will discuss the test with you in greater detail if need be.

Step 4 – Exercise Program

Setting SMART Goals is the first step when meeting your case manager. From there, you will attend 4 onsite exercise sessions using our dedicated, high-end equipment. Your Rehabilitation Team will monitor you as you complete aerobic, strengthening, and flexibility exercises. Your exercise program will be personalized to meet your goals and abilities. If your exercise program is offered virtually, our Rehabilitation team will offer virtual exercise classes. Your case manager will also provide you with healthy lifestyle guidance, monitor your progress, and review your SMART goals during your virtual/phone appointments.

Education and Counselling Services

Your Rehabilitation Team will provide ongoing education sessions, and counselling services are available throughout your program. Group virtual education sessions are scheduled weekly throughout the program with each member of the multidisciplinary rehabilitation team. Counselling services consist of one-on-one sessions (virtually or in-person) with our Registered Dietitian and Registered Social Worker. Counselling sessions are by appointment only and can be booked through our program receptionist directly at (807) 684-6780.

The Process – Outside of Thunder Bay

The Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Program is available at 10 sites throughout Northwestern Ontario via the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN). Please contact us to find out more about a program location close to you and information on how to attend these sessions. A full list of our program sites are on the Contact page here.