Cardiac Rehabilitation Services

Cardiac Rehabilitation was first established in Ireland in 1978, and is a recognised standard of care for cardiac patients as set out in the current Irish cardiovascular policy, Changing Cardiovascular Health 2010 – 2019, as well as in the previous strategy Building Healthier Hearts, 1999. Cardiac Rehabilitation is an evidence based approach to helping and supporting patients with CVD to manage their own condition and is recognised as one of the most evidence based programmes for supporting self- management of chronic disease (HIQA 2015)

Following the implementation of Building Healthier Hearts , the growth of Cardiac Rehabilitation services was dramatic across Ireland with the number of cardiac rehabilitation services increasing nationwide. The largest growth was between 1996 and 2005 with a six fold increase in patients receiving a cardiac rehabilitation service, from 696 in 1996 to 4210 in 2005 (Delaney et al 2006). Since then, the numbers of patients seeking cardiac rehabilitation has continued to increase.

However, following years of austerity during the recession, cardiac rehabilitation services were severely depleted. Whole time equivalent staff hours dropped from 127.4 in 2004 to 81.3 in 2015. Cardiac rehabilitation staff have continued to provide excellent evidence based care, but due to reduced staffing levels, waiting lists have grown considerably. The IACR continues to actively lobby to reverse the cutbacks and protect cardiac rehabilitation services in Ireland.

Cardiac Rehabilitation is predominately offered to individuals following acute Myocardial Infarction, Percutaneous Coronary Intervention, Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery and Heart Valve surgery. Evidence now suggests that the programme is very effective for heart failure and peripheral arterial disease patients also. Cardiac Rehabilitation in Ireland is managed by a Coordinator who directs patients to additional resources within the hospital and wider community system. The coordinator is supported by Cardiologists, Physiotherapists, Nurses, Occupational Therapists, Dietitians, Pharmacists, Psychologists and Social Workers.