Cardiovascular Rehabilitation (CR) Programs


Canadian Women’s Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Directory

  Peer Support Programs |  Cardiac Rehab Programs |  Women's Heart Clinics

  • Click on an icon to view the program's details. Click the List of programs icon to view the list of programs.

DISCLAIMER: This directory is meant to connect women with cardiovascular disease to available programming. While we have applied review criteria when adding these programs and resources, how you choose to use these programs and resources will be at your own discretion.

Online Cardiac Rehabilitation (CR) Directory

The Canadian Women’s Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Directory intends to increase awareness and establish connections for women living with cardiovascular disease to a chronic care program that meets their needs. 

We hope you will be automatically referred to a CR program. Discuss your referral to a CR program prior to your discharge. Be sure to follow up by communicating directly with your local CR program if you have not heard from them about your first appointment within a few weeks. 

CR Programs included on this directory have been selected based on the following criteria:

  • Based in Canada
  • Cardiovascular disease focus
  • The CR Program offers initial assessment, individualized exercise assessment and prescription, and education for self-management of cardiovascular risk factors¹.

Cardiovascular rehabilitation is an important part of the journey back to wellness after a cardiovascular event.

People identify and learn to manage their cardiac risk factors, improve their quality of life and fitness, and learn more information to successfully recover from a heart procedure or surgery.

The purpose of the CR Directory is to connect women with the CR programming that is right for them. 

What is Cardiovascular Rehabilitation?

Cardiac Rehabilitation (CR) is an outpatient health and wellness program to support people following heart diagnoses (e.g., heart attack, heart failure, rhythm and valve issues) and procedures (e.g., stents, heart bypass and valve surgery).

People are provided with education and coaching support to optimize their:

  1. Self-management of their cardiac risk factors (nutrition, tobacco use, exercise, medication adherence)
  2. Physical function and well-being (e.g., stress, anxiety/depression, sleep, and social relations) to enhance quality of life. 
    This support may be offered virtually (online or telephone) or in-person, and may be conducted individually (one-on-one), in a group, or a combination of both.

This support may be offered virtually (online or telephone) or in-person, and may be conducted individually (one-on-one), in a group, or a combination of both.

"I recommend every woman who has a heart event invest in themselves and complete the available cardiac rehab. Rehab gave me the self-confidence to work with my improved heart as well as learn to adjust to my new limitations. It provided me with a group environment to learn and become more than my cardiac disease.”

- Christina Stuwe, triple bypass, heart thriver, Calgary, AB 

CR programs are delivered by a team of experts to support you in your recovery which can include physicians, nurses, dietitians, exercise specialists and mental health care providers.

You will complete an initial assessment with the team and will then be involved in the development of a personalized, comprehensive program that can include the following components:

  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Psychosocial counseling
  • Education
  • Other (as personalized to you)

Programs can vary in duration and frequency, with most programs offering weekly classes lasting 3-6 months. 

Contact a local CR program near you for more details on how to join a program today. 

The Importance of Cardiac Rehabilitation for Women

Renee Buczel, a person with lived experience, presents her experience attending CR from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Prof. Sherry Grace, a leading expert in CR from York University and the University Health Network in Toronto, discusses the importance of women participating in CR.

Helpful Tips

Looking for a CR program that is right for you:

  • If you did not get a referral to CR, ask any of your doctors for a referral (e.g., primary care provider, heart specialist or surgeon)
  • If there are no programs available close to your home, ask about a home-based model at the site that is closest to you. These are proven to have the same benefits. 
  • Based on all that is outlined here, programs that take into consideration the unique needs of women with heart diseases are needed. As you can see in the Directory, there are some programs in Canada that do offer some women-focused programming, but unfortunately, these are not available across the country.
  • Remember not to be overwhelmed if there are many heart-health changes you would like to make to your lifestyle. This is not something that takes place immediately, but with the help of family, friends and your healthcare team progress can be made, and maintained.

Currently participating in a CR program:

  • No matter what program you are in, if you feel uncomfortable about something at your CR program, talk to the staff about it. 
  • If you would like to switch to a home-based model, or need more support, let the team know too. They want to help you make the most of your time in CR. 
  • If the exercise program is not working for you (e.g., maybe you feel too tired or in pain), again, let the CR team know. They will adjust your exercise routine to make sure it works for you over the long-term, and also work with you to adjust it over time. 
  •  Make sure you work with the CR program to get the necessary tools, knowledge and skills to self-manage your heart health. Through your participation, you can build your confidence in managing your heart health. 

Additional Resources