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cardiac rehabilitation, comorbidities, dropout, exercise capacity, psychosocial characteristics



  1. Pardaens, Sofie PhD
  2. De Smedt, Delphine PhD
  3. De Bacquer, Dirk PhD
  4. Willems, Anne-Marie PhD
  5. Verstreken, Sofie MD
  6. De Sutter, Johan MD, PhD


Background: Despite the clear benefits of cardiac rehabilitation (CR), a considerable number of patients drop out early.


Objective: Therefore, we wanted to evaluate dropout in CR with a special focus on comorbidities and psychosocial background.


Methods: Patients who attended CR after acute coronary syndrome, cardiac surgery, or heart failure (N = 489) were prospectively included. Dropout was defined as attending 50% of the training sessions or less (n = 96 [20%]). Demographic and clinical characteristics, exercise parameters, and psychosocial factors were analyzed according to dropout, and those with a trend toward a significant difference (P < .10) were entered in a multivariate logistic model.


Results: The presence of a cerebrovascular accident (4.18 [1.39-12.52]) involved a higher risk of dropout, and a comparable trend was seen for the presence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (2.55 [0.99-6.54]). Attending the training program only twice per week also implicated a higher risk of an early withdrawal (3.76 [2.23-6.35]). In contrast, patients on [beta]-blockers were less likely to withdraw prematurely (0.47 [0.22-0.98]). Singles were more likely to drop out (2.89 [1.56-5.35]), as well as those patients who were dependent on others to get to CR (2.01 [1.16-3.47]). Finally, the reporting of severe problems on the anxiety/depression subscale of the EuroQOL-5D questionnaire involved a higher odds for dropout (7.17 [1.46-35.29]).


Conclusions: Neither demographic characteristics nor clinical status or exercise capacity could independently identify patients who were at risk of dropout. The presence of comorbidities and a vulnerable psychosocial background rather seem to play a key role in dropout.