In addition, patients with other medical conditions, such as diabetes, a previous stroke, congestive heart failure or cancer, were significantly less likely to seek cardiac rehabilitation, Suaya's group found.
The study results are published in the Oct. 9 issue of the journal Circulation.
There are many reasons why patients don't seek rehabilitation, the researchers said.
"Many doctors may be reluctant to refer patients to cardiac rehabilitation," said study co-author Donald S. Shepard, a research professor at Brandeis' Heller School. "In addition, patients may not know or ask about it."
Shepard also noted that many medical institutions don't promote the service, which typically includes exercise and advice on diet. "It's not glamorous and, from the data we have, it is not very profitable," he said.
It may also be difficult for people to get to rehabilitation centers, Shepard said. "One of the findings in the study was that the closer you are, the more likely you are to use the service," he said. "Travel time and travel expense are things that reduce the use of the service."
Fonarow said "more needs to be done to ensure that eligible patients are effectively enrolled in supervised cardiac rehabilitation. The American Heart Association's 'Get With The Guidelines Program' is one example of a highly successful initiative to improve referral to cardiac rehabilitation after hospitalization for cardiovascular event or surgery."
For more on heart health, visit the American Heart Association.
SOURCES: Ramachandran S. Vasan, M.D., senior investigator of the Framingham Heart Study, professor of medicine, Boston University School of Medicine; J
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