Outpatient program

Do you live outside of Ottawa?

Find a program near you »

During hospitalization, the Heart Institute automatically refers patients to its Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Outpatient Program.

What is cardiovascular rehabilitation?

Cardiovascular rehabilitation (CR) is a program of education, exercise, counselling, and support that helps you make healthy living a part of your everyday life. The program also helps you understand how to take care of your own heart health after leaving the hospital, which can help prevent a future hospitalization.

Research shows people who participate in a CR program are more successful at managing their risk factors (causes of heart and blood vessel disease), and therefore prevent a worsening of their heart and vascular problems, compared to those who do not attend.

You can choose from a variety of personalized programs to meet your needs. We offer our programs by phone, computer, and in-person. Find details about the program options in our Cardiac Rehabilitation Brochure (PDF).

To participate in the Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Program, you must have diagnosed heart disease or valve disease and a physician must refer you.

To refer a patient to the Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Outpatient Program, please complete the referral form (PDF) and fax it as specified. Patients are eligible if they have had a cardiac event and are able to participate in managing their chronic condition.

Our team of health care professionals includes nurses, physiotherapists, dietitians, social workers, psychologists, and a vocational counsellor.

All options include:

  • Individualized risk factor profile
  • Exercise assessment and plan
  • Nutrition information and counselling
  • Mental health programs, including programs for stress management, managing emotions, such as feelings of anxiety and depression
  • Support to assist you in returning to work or adjusting to your new health challenges, complete with caregiver support information and financial support options
  • Quit-smoking support
  • Medication information
  • Medical assessment and risk factor management by a physician
  • Follow-up evaluations

For specific heart health information, tools and resources to support you, we have created a series of cardiac rehabilitation guides and top ten tips.

Heart Failure Program

We have a targeted Heart Failure Program specifically designed for patients with heart failure. It includes an eight-week virtual education class series, as well as group exercise options available virtually and in-person at the Heart Institute.

Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Program components

The Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Outpatient Program offers patients access to these key components (if applicable):

Medical evaluation

One of our physicians may see you to assess your current medical health, determine your risk factors, and set safety guidelines specific to you.

Help to quit smoking

If you smoke, you will work with a contact person/case manager to support you to quit. You can be referred to the Heart Institute’s Quit Smoking Program.

Virtual education

As part of your Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Program we will offer you a variety of workshops about heart-healthy topics. You may attend via video conference (through MyChart) or by telephone. These options allow you to learn how to manage your condition without leaving home or work.

Virtual exercise

We may also offer you the choice of doing your exercise program by video conference or onsite. Staff supervise virtual exercise sessions. You may join in from your location of choice.

Onsite exercise

If you are an onsite participant, you will attend physiotherapist- and nurse-supervised exercise classes. Classes include a warm-up, aerobic conditioning and a cool-down.

Aerobic conditioning exercise includes walking or jogging on a 72-metre indoor track or using a variety of cardio equipment. We teach muscle-toning and stretching exercises during the classes. If you wish to improve your muscle strength, you can attend a strength training workshop.

Vocational counselling

During the initial meeting, a vocational counsellor reviews your current situation, history, and goals, and assesses your capacity to work. If you need to build physical strength and/or self-confidence, then we implement “work hardening” in partnership with the physiotherapy staff and your employer.

The vocational counsellor may recommend a gradual return to work in terms of hours and/or duties. They generally monitor your progress back at work and provide supportive counselling as part of job stabilization.

Nutrition counselling

In the outpatient setting, the registered dietitian provides assessment, counselling, monitoring and education to help you better manage your medical condition with food. Your Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Program includes nutrition workshops led by a registered dietitian, and should you have additional nutrition needs and/or questions, we can arrange an individual consult.

For more information about healthy eating and access to videos about nutrition, visit this page of our website. You may also download and read our nutrition guide and these top ten tips for healthy eating.

Psychosocial assessment and transitional psychological services

Psychosocial assessment, brief interventions, and referral resources are available. When people experience health problems, their lives often become disrupted. They may feel several emotions, such as stress, worry, frustration or depression. Sometimes they need help adjusting to life changes and their emotions after a heart event or procedure. As such, we offer programs on stress management and managing emotions.

Stress Management Program

The Stress Management Program offers a variety of techniques to better manage stress. Each of the six 90-minute sessions cover a distinct topic.

  • An introduction to stress management
  • Relaxation exercises
  • Signs and sources of stress
  • Personal values and priorities to improve time management
  • Social support and assertive communication
  • Approach and avoidance coping

We offer the program virtually and in-person through the Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Program.

Interested patients may call the Division of Cardiac Rehabilitation to participate in the Stress Management Program. The number is 613-696-7070.

Managing Emotions Program

It is typical to have an emotional reaction after a heart event or procedure or if you have been diagnosed with heart disease. Depression and anxiety are common among patients with heart disease. The Managing Emotions Program uses a cognitive-behavioral approach (that is, addressing what you do and how you think to improve your emotions) to treat depression and anxiety symptoms specific to the needs of cardiac patients.

We offer this ten-session program virtually and in-person, and it covers the following topics:

  • The value of emotions
  • The basics of emotions management and coping skills
  • Values, priorities and time management
  • Problematic thinking styles
  • Emotional awareness and avoidance
  • Emotion-driven behaviours
  • Managing thoughts and feelings in uncertain situations
  • Communication