Cardiac rehabilitation has a positive effect on life expectancy for heart patients

Study shows that cardiac rehabilitation for many heartandoeningand has an effect at any age

It makes sense for all cardiovascular patients to follow a cardiac rehabilitation program. People who participate in a program, and so gain more knowledge about the risk factors of cardiovascular disease and receive advice about lifestyle and stress management, live longer on average. Researchers at Radboud university medical center show this in collaboration with health insurer VGZ. The results are now published in JAMA Network Open.

The research shows that only 31% of people who received a new diagnosis of cardiovascular disease or underwent heart surgery between 2012 and 2017 followed a cardiac rehabilitation program. This includes, for example, a heart attack, chronic heart failure or the placement of a stent.

No difference in age or gender

This group was then 32% less likely to die prematurely compared to patients who did not receive cardiac rehabilitation. Interestingly, no difference was found in gender, age, socio-economic status or the possible presence of other disorders. Thijs Eijsvogels, exercise physiologist of the Radboud university medical center: “It therefore does not appear to matter whether someone is over 80 or under 50 and whether there are additional disorders. We see a positive effect for everyone when following a cardiac rehabilitation program. ”

Stress management and smoking cessation

Cardiac rehabilitation programs last an average of six to twelve weeks and take place in a hospital or rehabilitation center. The program consists of information meetings about the risks and consequences of heart disease, a healthy diet and the use of medicines. In addition, patients receive active help with, for example, quitting smoking and learning an active lifestyle. Psychological assistance and stress management can also be part of the program.

Better information

VGZ researcher Martijn Maessen: “Based on anonymized data, we have seen that two thirds do not participate in heart patients with an indication for cardiac rehabilitation. Now that we know that participation in the program has a positive effect on life expectancy, there is still much to be gained here. For example, by providing better information about the health benefits of cardiac rehabilitation. ”

Stop on programs during coronavirus outbreak

Almost all cardiac rehabilitation programs were discontinued in March and April to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Now they are started up carefully again. Thijs Eijsvogels: “This research shows that cardiac rehabilitation has a positive effect on the life expectancy of people with cardiovascular disease. It would therefore be good to avoid the programs having to be stopped again in the event of a possible revival of the coronavirus, as the number of participants will decrease. Home rehabilitation in combination with digital and physical appointments is the future. ”

Publication in JAMA Network Open: Association of Cardiac Rehabilitation With All-Cause Mortality Among Patients With Cardiovascular Disease in the Netherlands – Thijs MH Eijsvogels, Martijn FH Maessen, Esmée A. Bakker, Esther P. Meindersma, Niels van Gorp, Nicole Pijnenburg, Paul D. Thompson, Maria TE Hopman.

Source: Radboud UMC

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