exercise, cardiac rehabilitation, European Union, sport groups



  1. Vanhees, Luc PhD
  2. McGee, Hannah M. PhD
  3. Dugmore, L. Dorian PhD
  4. Schepers, Dirk MSc
  5. van Daele, Patrick MSc


PURPOSE: Empirical data on the level and nature of service delivery in cardiac rehabilitation (CR) in Europe are unavailable. Such information would facilitate service development across European Union (EU) Member States. A first EU-wide postal survey to provide baseline data was conducted.


METHODS: Organizations providing CR in 1995 were identified for 13 of 15 EU states (all except Luxembourg and Denmark). Using the World Health Organization definitions, 454 phase II (medium-term recovery after hospital release) and 383 phase III (long-term maintenance) centers were contacted in the relevant language. Staffing, content, duration, cost, and safety aspects of CR were queried.


RESULTS: Response rates were 57% (phase II) and 56% (phase III). Replies illustrate consistency across the EU; for instance, in having exercise as a core component of phase II programs. They also exemplify the diversity of services, particularly in phase III. The multidisciplinary aspect of CR is less developed in phase III. From this survey it is possible to make general estimates of the level of CR service coverage across EU States. Fewer than 50% of patients eligible to participant do so in most countries, with services in particularly short supply in countries with the greatest cardiovascular burden.


CONCLUSION: Many cardiac patients who could benefit from CR, an evidence-based treatment, do not participate in such programs. This survey provides important baseline and EU comparison data to monitor patterns of service development in the future.