Cardiac Rehabilitation Underused but Beneficial

Programs are generally cost-effective, but often under-funded and inflexible
By A. Agrawal, PhD
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Oct. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Although cardiac rehabilitation, a medically supervised program to help heart patients recover and improve their functioning, is often not seen as an important component of comprehensive cardiac care and is underused, studies have shown clear benefits, according to a review published online Oct. 8 in Heart.

David R. Thompson, Ph.D., from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, and Alex M. Clark, Ph.D., from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, note that many reviews have found that patients who receive cardiac rehabilitation have significant reductions in morbidity and mortality, and improvements in health-related quality of life, exercise tolerance, symptoms, blood lipid profiles, blood pressure, psychosocial well-being, and stress.

However, despite the clear benefits, the researchers note studies show that only 20 to 50 percent of patients in the United States, Canada, Europe, and the United Kingdom, who were likely to benefit, actually received cardiac rehabilitation. Studies further show that cardiac rehabilitation is cost-effective, depending on cardiac risk level, reason for referral, and demographic characteristics. Although current programs tend to be hospital based, the authors suggest that more community-based and home-based programs are needed.

"Cardiac rehabilitation remains grossly under-utilized despite its benefits," Thompson and Clark conclude. "Improving access to and equity of services is vital to the future of cardiac rehabilitation, yet remains constrained by under-funded and inflexible programs."

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