What Is a Cardiac Chair?

Cardiac chairs improve the circulation and breathing of patients who are recovering from cardiac surgery.
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  • Written By: Kristen Douglas
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 09 September 2014
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A cardiac chair is designed specifically for recovering cardiac patients who have heart and respiratory illnesses. The chair is made to serve as a fully reclined bed at times, but can be adjusted to form a chair. This helps to elevate the patient from the waist up, which provides relief to the lungs and circulation, and assists him or her in coming from a fully flat position to a sitting position without causing harm or undue strain. As opposed to a hospital bed, it is usually easier to adjust, with separate sections that support back, bottom, arms, and legs rather than a single mattress, which typically will not adjust fully into a chair position.

In the early 1940s, medical professionals discovered that patients who had undergone surgery or who had experienced cardiac arrest recovered quicker and more often if they became ambulatory sooner than later. Doctors began using chair therapy — having patients move from bed to chair to sit for portions of the day — because patients in sitting positions had less strain in breathing and had improved circulation over those who were in laying down positions for their entire stay. By the early 1950s, short walks were also recommended. The cardiac chair has made it much easier for medical staff and patients to be able to sit and to get into position to stand.


If a patient who has undergone cardiac surgery were to try to move from a flat position to a sitting position on a hospital bed, he or she would place undue strain on sutures and on the heart. Even with medical staff assistance, this movement is especially difficult for larger or weaker patients. Sitting up too quickly after a surgical procedure can also cause dizziness and increase a patient's chance of falling. With a cardiac chair, the patient or staff can adjust the chair slowly into a sitting position from the waist up, and then adjust the lower part of the chair from the knee down. By doing this, the patient has no strain on his or her sutures, heart, or lungs, and can adjust to the altered position without dizziness.

Many chairs are on wheels, which can help patients who are already in sitting positions to be moved to other departments while remaining in the sitting position. They can also be used for other types of patients as well, especially those who have respiratory illnesses and can benefit by being elevated into sitting positions.


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Post 2

My cousin's husband had bypass heart surgery a few years back. I think that he must have used a cardiac hospital chair when he was recuperating in the hospital. It's such a good idea. And to think that something that was put into use in the 1940s is still used today.

He uses a recliner chair to help him breathe more easily. He sleeps in an upright position on nights when he has trouble sleeping comfortably.

Post 1

Incredible! Something as simple as a comfortable chair that can bring so much comfort and make recovery quicker. It stands to reason that using a chair to sleep and rest in can ease the strain on breathing.

Compared to getting up from a bed and from a chair, there must be a lot less pain in the chest. I'm surprised they thought of this, way back in the 1940s. I wonder if they use these chairs for any other kinds of hospital patients?

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