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Cardiac rehabilitation saves lives
Date:6/8/2009

Waltham, MA Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death worldwide and a major driver of medical and economic costs, especially among older adults. It has long been established that cardiac rehabilitation improves survival, at least in middle-aged, low- and moderate-risk white men. Now a large Brandeis University-led study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology reports that older cardiac patients benefit as much from cardiac rehab as their younger counterparts.

Worldwide, in 2004, 7.2 million people died from CHD, while in the United States alone, more than 13 million people suffered from CHD, and almost half a million died from heart disease in 2003. Moreover, Americans aged 65 and older account for more than 55 percent of heart attacks and 86 percent of CHD deaths.

"The good news is that patients who use cardiac rehab live longer than those who do not use it, regardless of their clinical diagnosis, gender, race, or socioeconomic background" said Dr. Jose Suaya, lead author and visiting scholar at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. The study showed that "patients with different clinical backgroundsheart attacks, coronary bypass operations, and even congestive heart failureall had lower mortality when using cardiac rehab," Dr. Suaya asserted.

The study examined mortality in 601,099 Medicare beneficiaries who were hospitalized in 1997 for heart disease or bypass surgery and followed up through 2002. The study used three different statistical techniques to compare mortality between patients who used cardiac rehab and those who didn't. Overall, within a span of five years, mortality rates were 21 percent to 34 percent lower in older adult patients who used cardiac rehab. Cardiac rehab is a covered benefit under Medicare.

"Despite the significant benefits of cardiac rehab, only 12 percent of these patients actually took advantage of it," said Pr
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Contact: Laura Gardner
gardner@brandeis.edu
781-736-4204
Brandeis University
Source:Eurekalert

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