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  1. Gee, Michael A. MD, MPH
  2. Viera, Anthony J. MD, MPH
  3. Miller, Paula F. MD
  4. Tolleson-Rinehart, Sue PhD


PURPOSE: Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) has been shown to generally increase functional capacity and lower cardiovascular morbidity in patients with ischemic heart disease. The effectiveness of CR in female participants, however, is unclear. We thus examined whether improvement in functional capacity after CR differs between men and women with ischemic heart disease.


METHODS: Our study was a retrospective cohort study that included 1104 participants (346 women and 758 men) enrolled in CR from 2002 through 2011. We measured change in metabolic equivalents (METs) after CR to assess improvement in functional capacity in male and female participants. We considered various potential confounders, including baseline METs, CR referral indication, age, race, body mass index, baseline cholesterol, and home zip code average prosperity.


RESULTS: Men experienced a greater improvement in METs following CR in all models, including the unadjusted model (2.16 METs in men, 1.65 METs in women; P = .0001), the model adjusting for CR indication only (2.15 METs in men, 1.67 METs in women; P = .0003), and the model adjusting for age, body mass index, and CR indication (2.12 METs in men, 1.66 METs in women; P = .0004).


CONCLUSIONS: We show that men obtain greater benefit from current CR programs than do women. This implies that tailoring CR programs to women may yield further improvement in functional capacity for female CR participants.