CR is a medically supervised, multi-faceted, team-based secondary prevention program that lowers the risk of death and health complications for eligible patients and boosts their chances of returning to an active lifestyle.
CR includes supervised exercise training, patient education and heart-healthy skills development, and counseling on stress and other psychosocial factors. The program is customized to meet each patient’s individual needs.
Participation is recommended for patients who have had a heart attack, coronary angioplasty or a stent, heart bypass surgery, heart value replacement or repair, a heart or heart-lung transplant, or a diagnosis of stable angina or chronic heart failure.
The program is typically delivered in the outpatient setting, although in some instances it is initiated in the inpatient setting.
The optimal course is 36 one-hour sessions.
Medicare and many insurance companies cover CR for eligible patients, but individuals should review their insurance benefits and there may be copays.
The benefits include:
- reduced risk of death
- fewer symptoms, such as angina and fatigue
- decreased heart attack recurrence
- better medication adherence
- improved exercise performance
- increased quality of life and ability to perform daily living activities and/or return to work
- improved patient mood
- better patient understanding of heart disease and its management
CR can reduce hospital readmissions, including those for patients who have an acute myocardial infarction and who receive a coronary artery bypass graft. With optimal referrals, CR can also generate funds for the provision of CR services.
As per national clinical guidelines, CR is a critical part of cardiac patients’ care. Hospitals committed to the provision of CR for their patients demonstrate their dedication to provide high quality and comprehensive cardiovascular health services for their patients and the community served.
If your hospital is interested in increasing the use of CR for your cardiac patients, consider joining AHRQ’s TAKEheart initiative. TAKEheart is designed to help hospitals increase CR referral, enrollment, and retention through evidence-based strategies, including automatic referral with care coordination.
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.
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.
New AHRQ Project Designed to Save Lives By Increasing Use of Cardiac Rehabilitation After Coronary Events. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; April 2019. https://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsroom/press-releases/cardiac-rehabilitation-project.html.