Waltham, MA Despite strong evidence that cardiac rehabilitation reduces disability and prolongs life, fewer than one in five people receive rehabilitation services after a heart attack or coronary bypass surgery, according to a Brandeis study in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
We need to find ways to increase the use of cardiac rehabilitation, because it is used very little by patients who could benefit a lot, said Jose A. Suaya, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study and a lecturer and scientist at the Schneider Institutes for Health Policy, Heller School, at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass.
Overall, the study found that, despite Medicare coverage of cardiac rehabilitation sessions, among Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 and above, women participated less than men, older people less than younger, and non-whites significantly less than whites. Additionally, the researchers noted striking geographic differences in the use of cardiac rehabilitation after cardiac hospitalizations, ranging from 53.5 percent of patients in Nebraska to 6.6 percent in Idaho. The accompanying map shows rates by state.
Almost all patients with stable angina or a recent heart attack, bypass surgery, or a coronary stent could benefit from cardiac rehabilitation, Suaya said. Importantly, this benefit applies regardless of age, gender or race.
Patients and their families should ask for referral to cardiac rehabilitation before they are discharged from the hospital, said co-author Donald S. Shepard, Ph.D., professor at the Heller School. This is particularly important for patients with other medical conditions, who are less likely to receive a referral.
In the largest and most comprehensive study of its kind, researchers evaluated Medicare claims data on 267,427 men and women aged 65 and above who survived at least 30 days after hospital discharge following a heart attack or coronary bypass surgery in 1997.
|Contact: Laura Gardner|