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Many Heart Attack Patients Not Referred to Cardiac Rehab
Date:7/27/2009

Despite benefits, only slightly more than half get it, study shows

MONDAY, July 27 (HealthDay News) -- Even though cardiac rehabilitation has been shown to guard against future heart trouble once a cardiovascular event has landed someone in the hospital, only 56 percent of these patients are referred for the therapy, a new study finds.

Despite national guidelines that say hospitalized patients with a qualifying cardiovascular disease event should be referred to outpatient cardiac rehabilitation before hospital discharge, the study demonstrates this doesn't happen often enough, the researchers noted.

"Cardiac rehabilitation improves clinical outcomes, but is widely underutilized," said researcher Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

"A large number of patients hospitalized with coronary artery disease may be having recurrent cardiovascular events and deaths that could be prevented by greater participation in cardiac rehabilitation programs," he added.

The report is published in the July 28 online edition of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

For the study, Fonarow's team used data from the American Heart Association's Get With The Guidelines program to collect information on 72,817 patients discharged from hospitals after a heart attack, angioplasty or bypass surgery between January 2000 and September 2007.

The researchers found that only 40,974 (56 percent) of the patients were referred to cardiac rehabilitation when leaving the hospital.

Among those who had a heart attack, 53 percent were referred to rehab, as were 58 percent of patients who underwent angioplasty and 74 percent of those who had bypass surgery, the study found.

Among the 156 hospitals in the study, there was no consistency in referring patients to cardiac rehab. "These cardiac rehabilitation referral rates varied
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