UAB Medicine

Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Overview

UAB Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation

UAB Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Services was among the first in the nation to receive national accreditation from the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation and has maintained accreditation since 1999, receiving recertification in 2011.

The program has provided care to more than 1800 cardiology patients and 500 pulmonary patients during the past decade according to Section Head of Preventive Cardiology Vera Bittner, MC, MSPH, and medical director of the program’s cardiac component. Dr. Bittner is also the recent recipient of the L. Kent Smith Excellence Awards from the AACVPR. The award recognizes a senior-level professional in the field of cardiac or pulmonary rehabilitation for outstanding clinical contributions to the field.

What to Expect
Your first day of cardiopulmonary rehabilitation will include an assessment used to create your individual treatment plan. Patients will complete questionnaires on diet and quality of life, a physical activity assessment that includes a six-minute walking test, an EKG to determine heart rhythm and rate, and blood pressure screening. Once this data has been collected, a physician-directed treatment plan, with patient input, is created. Each treatment plan is built specifically for the patient and includes education to help manage and reduce risk factors, a one-on-one meeting with a dietitian, and an exercise prescription. Each exercise session is medically supervised and lasts about an hour. Many treatment programs are 12-weeks in length, but may be longer or shorter depending on the patient’s individual needs.

Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation helps patients:

  • Improve quality of life
  • Improve breathing
  • Increase muscle strength and endurance
  • Improve the ability to cope with daily activities
  • Learn how to use medications and oxygen appropriately
  • Reduce hospitalizations
  • Learn how to reduce important risk factors, like:
    • High cholesterol
    • High blood pressure
    • Weight gain
    • Diabetes
    • Physical inactivity
    • Smoking


Our Healthcare Team
Each patient’s plan is physician-directed, and provided by a team of experts, including:

  • Cardiologists
  • Pulmonologists
  • Nurses
  • Exercise physiologists
  • Diabetes educators
  • Pharmacists
  • Psychologists
  • Dietitians


Our Patients

Patients with one of the following conditions may be eligible to participate in cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, with physician referral:  

Cardiac Rehabilitation


Pulmonary Rehabilitation


Insurance Reimbursement
Payment for cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation services depends on each patient’s medical insurance policy. Our staff will verify insurance coverage prior to program enrollment. If insurance coverage is not available, patients may participate through self-pay.

Spain Rehabilitation Center  
1717 6th Ave South
Birmingham, Al 35249

Hours of Operation
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday, Friday
9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Helpful Resources
National Lipid Association
American Heart Association
CardioSmart

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