There is mounting evidence that cardiac rehab reduces the risk of death or recurrent cardiac events in those who participate. However, most individuals who qualify never take advantage of the service. The big question is how to increase attendance in cardiac rehab programs. A recent study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation indicates that catching people early is important. The study followed 148 patients with non-surgical events that qualify for cardiac rehabilitation. Subjects were randomized to begin cardiac rehabilitation either within 10 days of hospital discharge or after 35 days. The study showed that those who were scheduled within 10 days were 56% more likely to attend than those scheduled after 35 days. While there may be a number of explanations for this finding, the message is clear. Get patients in as soon after discharge as possible. If you or a loved one has had a qualifying cardiac event, make sure to ask your doctor for a referral for cardiac rehab ASAP.
Events that qualify of cardiac rehab include: heart attack, bypass surgery, angioplasty, valve replacement, and heart transplant.
Reference: Pack, Q.R., et al. An Early Appointment to Outpatient Cardiac Rehabilitation at Hospital Discharge Improves Attendance at Orientation: A Randomized, Single-blind, Controlled Trial. Circulation. 2012; published online before print December 18 2012, doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.112.121996