Benefits of Cardiac Rehabilitation
There is robust clinical evidence demonstrating the benefits of cardiac rehabilitation including:
The benefits include reduction in cardiovascular mortality by 26%. Based on meta-analyses, mortality is reduced in individuals that partake in a Cardiac Rehabilitation programme. Hospital admissions are also reduced by 18% (Anderson, 2016).
Improvement in aerobic exercise capacity.
An improvement in exercise tolerance is one of the most clearly established benefits of Cardiac Rehabilitation. This applies to patients with a wide variety of clinical presentations including angina pectoris, myocardial infarction, patients following CABG surgery and PCI. An increase of 5 – 10% in cardiorespiratory fitness levels with improved flexibility and muscular strength and endurance is expected (Piepoli, 2014). A meta-analysis of changes in cardiorespiratory fitness trials of CR (n=3827) found an improvement of 1.55 (95%CI 1.21-1,89) METs (p<0.001) (Sandercock et al, 2013).
Reduction in cardiovascular risk factors.
Cardiac Rehabilitation has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol, increase HDL cholesterol (if exercise is maintained), assist in weight control in conjunction with a healthy diet, help regulate blood sugar levels and assist in maintaining a normal blood pressure.
Delayed Progression of Coronary Artery Disease.
Observational studies have demonstrated the beneficial effects of cardiac rehabilitation that include advice on dietary measures and exercise in relation to the delayed progression of coronary artery atheroma.
Improvement in Myocardial Perfusion.
A number of studies have demonstrated that Cardiac Rehabilitation significantly increases myocardial blood flow and myocardial perfusion in patients with coronary heart disease.
Improvement in symptoms.
Cardiac Rehabilitation has been shown to improve symptoms of Angina in patients with coronary heart disease and decrease symptoms of heart failure in patients with left ventricular systolic dysfunction.
Improved psychological and psychosocial well-being.
Cardiac Rehabilitation programmes have been shown to improve psychological well being, with significant decreases in anxiety and depression. These benefits are not observed from exercise alone but in combination with stress management and psychological counselling. Reductions in hostility and emotional distress have also been observed.