AHA Policy Statement on Cardiac Rehabilitation Issued

New referral policies can up participation by overcoming patient, health care-related barriers

THURSDAY, Nov. 17 (HealthDay News) -- For patients with cardiovascular disease, participation in cardiac rehabilitation/secondary prevention programs (CR/SPPs) can be enhanced by overcoming patient and health care system-related barriers, and implementing new methods and policies for referral and enrollment, according to an American Heart Association policy statement published online Nov. 14 in Circulation.

Gary J. Balady, M.D., from Boston University, and colleagues investigated barriers to referral and enrollment in CR/SPPs, and provided recommendations for enhancing the quality of and participation in CR/SPPs.

The authors report that CR/SPP referral and enrollment was limited by patient and health care system-related factors or the presence of medical comorbidities. To increase the enrollment and referral rates, the authors recommend including CR/SPPs in hospital discharge plans, increasing patient awareness, ensuring referral follow-ups, overcoming language barriers, and implementing novel methods such as motivational communications. In addition, the CR/SPPs should be reengineered according to patient's needs and should target older individuals, women, minorities, and those with poor socioeconomic status, education, and insurance coverage. Enhanced use of CR/SPP can be driven by health reform implementations such as inclusion of CR/SPPs as a part of essential health benefits; reduction of program expenditures by implementation of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation; establishment of patient-centered medical homes; and implementation of prevention programs.

"Preventing secondary cardiac events is an essential part of the care for patients with cardiovascular disease," the authors write.

One of the report's authors disclosed financial ties to Smart Balance Inc.

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