1. Harris, Jennifer

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Study Rationale: Less than half of adults with heart disease (HD) engage in regular exercise. While some HD patients do participate in hospital-based cardiac rehabilitation programs (CRP), many do not initiate or continue a program of regular exercise. The Heart Wise Exercise (HWE) model was developed to promote long-term exercise participation among those with HD. HWE uses a logo (representing 6 criteria) to help this population identify appropriate exercise programs in the community. Development of HWE has also facilitated their transition from institutional to community exercise programs.


Objective: As part of ongoing evaluation efforts to assess the impact of HWE on the exercise participation of individuals with HD, the aims of this pilot study were (1) to describe the proportion, exercise patterns and preferences of individuals with HD participating in HWE programs before and after the launch of the HWE initiative; and (2) to evaluate the preliminary impact of the HWE initiative on the transition of CRP participants to community-based exercise programs.


Method: A pilot survey (n = 111) was administered to CRP and community-based participants prior to the launch of HWE. Following the launch of HWE, self-administered surveys were given to a convenience sample of CRP and community-based participants (n = 244) to assess their exercise participation and preferences, and recognition of the HWE logo.


Results: 22% of HWE participants surveyed reported having HD, and 30% perceived that they were at increased risk of developing HD, yet only 17% have previously participated in a CRP. Following implementation of HWE, the proportion of CRP participants that were transitioned to community-based HWE programs increased significantly from 15% to 43%. Knowledge translation efforts to inform people about HWE have been successful, as 61% of community participants and 73% of CRP patients recognized the HWE logo. HWE participants who reported either living with, or being at risk of HD are most likely to participate in land-based group exercise classes (56%) and engage in an independent walking (89%) or weight-training (28%) program at community facilities. Factors important to CR patients transitioning to community HWE programs included a convenient location (46%), affordable fees (24%) and availability of equipment (23%).


Conclusion: While a larger, more controlled investigation is necessary, this preliminary evaluation provides evidence of the potential of the HWE initiative to address the current low rates of exercise participation among individuals living with HD.