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Cardiac Rehab: Effective But Underused

This article is more than 10 years old.

Numerous studies have found that heart attack victims who undergo cardiac rehabilitation have a greater chance of survival. However, few such patients take advantage of cardiac rehab programs that are available, according to a story in the Boston Globe (and a recent post in Commonhealth.)

Reporter Kay Lazar writes:

Study after study has shown that patients who attend even a few sessions can significantly increase their chances of survival. The problem is, most people who have had a heart attack or bypass surgery - and are therefore at risk of a repeat - don’t go to rehab, and many of those who do go don’t stick with it.

Some cardiologists say the programs often aren’t promoted to patients because they aren’t the money-makers for hospitals that other cardiac treatments are, such as bypass surgery or angioplasty. And given the prestige and heroics associated with those higher-tech, immediate interventions, the self-discipline and perseverance needed for successful rehab tend to relegate it to the lower echelon for resources and respect in the medical community, said cardiologist Philip Ades, a professor of medicine at the University of Vermont and director of cardiac rehab and preventive cardiology at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington.

“To this day, the majority of hospitals in the US don’t recruit patients as actively in their rehab program because they are worried about the medical politics,’’ Ades said.

Ades coauthored a 2007 study, published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, that tracked Medicare claims and found that, nationwide, cardiac rehab was provided to just 13.9 percent of patients hospitalized for heart attacks and 31 percent who had undergone bypass surgery.

This program aired on January 11, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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