A recent study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology analyzed a large body of evidence related to cardiac rehabilitation. Currently, cardiac rehab is recognized by health organizations as an important part of treatment for patients with heart disease. Cardiac rehab is a comprehensive program that includes exercise training, education on lifestyle choices, risk factor modification and even mental health. While most heart patients can benefit greatly from cardiac rehab, not all take advantage of this critical program.
To explore the many benefits of cardiac rehab, researchers reviewed existing evidence on the topic. A total of 63 clinical trials were included in the analysis, all of which compared outcomes in patients that did and did not participate in cardiac rehab programs. Study participants included heart attack patients, individuals diagnosed with heart disease or patients that underwent heart procedures to restore blood flow to the heart.
Among nearly 14,500 patients followed for a minimum of six months, researchers found that cardiac rehab reduced risk for heart-related death by 26%. Patients attending cardiac rehab were also 18% less likely to be admitted to the hospital in the year following their heart event or procedure. And two-thirds of studies found that cardiac rehab was associated with better quality of life.
Findings reaffirm the value of cardiac rehab and support current guidelines recommending rehab programs for heart patients. Not only does cardiac rehab improve outcomes, it can improve quality of life for patients with heart disease.
The problem is that not all patients take advantage of cardiac rehab after a heart event, procedure or heart disease diagnosis. With additional education, experts hope to increase referrals to cardiac rehab and increase the number of heart patients attending rehab programs. Together, experts hope these efforts will increase utilization of cardiac rehab and help heart patients live longer, healthier lives.