Montreal Cardiac rehabilitation is considered the pillar of preventing a second cardiac event yet those who stand to benefit the most women and the elderly − are often missing out, Dr. Billie Jean Martin told the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2010, co-hosted by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society.
"These two high-risk but universally undertreated groups are less likely attend cardiac rehab than their younger, male counterparts even when they are referred," says Dr. Martin, PhD(c) and surgical trainee at University Calgary/Libin Cardiovascular Institute, speaking on behalf of her co-authors at the Cardiac Wellness institute of Calgary and APPROACH. "And when women do attend cardiac rehab, they tend to present later and at a more serious stage of the disease."
The study of 6,000 people living with cardiovascular disease found that participation in cardiac rehab was associated with a decreased risk of emergency room visits and hospitalization and a significantly lower risk of death.
"Cardiac rehab had a greater impact on mortality in women and in the elderly," says Dr. Martin, who also noted that fewer hospital visits had an impact on reducing health costs. "It is very beneficial in these two difficult-to-reach and at-risk populations but we are not very successful with getting them to attend."
She says that greater attention should be placed on referring all eligible patients to cardiac rehab irrespective of age and sex and that we should better address barriers to attendance.
Barriers for women entering cardiac rehab
Why don't women enter cardiac rehab as often as men? There are multiple reasons.
The most common barriers to cardiac rehab for female heart patients include domestic care responsibilities, distance to the cardiac rehab facility, transportation problems, work responsibilities, lack of energy, time constraints, existing muscle and bone cond
|Contact: Jane-Diane Fraser|
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada