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What are the benefits of cardiac rehabilitation?

The three components of CR work in concert to provide patients with a variety of benefits. Structured exercise improves cardiovascular health, reduces risk factors and symptoms, and improves mood. Education and skill-building enable patients to manage their conditions and make lifestyle changes that enhance heart health. Counseling helps patients reduce stress and address psychosocial factors that impact their health. These improvements in patient outcomes also benefit hospitals.

Core CR Components
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Supervised exercise training
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Education and skills development
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Psychosocial counseling
Patient Benefits
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Reduced risk of death
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Fewer symptoms, such as angina and fatigue
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Decreased heart attack recurrence
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Better medication adherence
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Improved exercise performance
a heart hovering above a pair of hands
Increased quality of life and ability to perform daily living activities
man with a heart over his chest
Better patient understanding of heart disease and its management
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Improved patient mood
CR Hospital Benefits
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Improved quality of care and outcomes
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Reduced readmissions
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Improved quality metrics
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Increased readiness for value-based payment initiatives

Who benefits from cardiac rehabilitation?

Every year, over 1 million Americans have a coronary event or undergo a cardiac-related procedure that qualifies them for CR. Specific candidates for CR include:

Patients who have one of these cardiac-related conditions or events:

  • Heart attack
  • Stable chronic heart failure
  • Current stable angina

Patients who have undergone one of these cardiac procedures:

  • Coronary angioplasty or stent
  • Bypass surgery
  • Heart valve replacement or repair
  • Heart or heart-lung transplant

Many insurers, including Medicare, cover cardiac rehabilitation for these classes of patients, but there may be out-of-pocket costs.

What is cardiac rehabilitation?

Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised, multifaceted, team-based secondary prevention program aimed at improving heart health. It includes supervised exercise training, patient education and heart-healthy skills development, and counseling on stress and other psychosocial factors. CR is typically delivered in the outpatient setting but can be initiated in the inpatient setting. It optimally consists of 36 one-hour sessions. CR is customized to meet each patient’s individual needs, optimizing its benefits.

Internet Citations

Ades PA, Keteyian SJ, Wright JS, Hamm LF, Lui K, Newlin K, Shepard DS, Thomas RJ. Increasing cardiac rehabilitation participation from 20% to 70%: a road map from the Million Hearts Rehabilitation Collaborative. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2017 Feb;92(2):234. https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(16)30648-6/pdf.

Wall HK, Stolp H, Lucido B, Graff K. Cardiac Rehabilitation Change Package: A Million Hearts Action Guide. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; July 2018. https://millionhearts.hhs.gov/files/Cardiac_Rehab_Change_Pkg.pdf.

Mayo Clinic. Cardiac Rehabilitation: Overview. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cardiac-rehabilitation/about/pac-20385192. Accessed November 12, 2019.

American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Cardiac Rehabilitation: Putting More Patients on the Road to Recovery. https://www.heart.org/idc/groups/ahaecc-public/@wcm/@adv/documents/downloadable/ucm_473083.pdf.