How can we improve cardiac rehabilitation programs?

October 7, 2013

Post by: Iris Lesser, CSEP-CEP, MSc., PhD. Candidate
Photo by: Joint Base Lewis McChord, via Flickr

The first regional cardiac rehabilitation information meeting was held in Vancouver last week to discuss the future of cardiac rehabilitation. Physicians, researchers, registered nurses, program managers, dieticians and exercise instructors from across Lower Mainland health authorities and community programs took part in the discussion.

Dr. Scott Lear provided an overview of the future of cardiac rehabilitation with support from almost a decade of research. He presented two innovative alternatives to traditional in-hospital cardiac rehabilitation programs, which are limited by their high costs and low participant adherence.

Specifically, Dr. Lear showed evidence that online cardiac rehabilitation can improve exercise capacity similarly to regular programs. It may also be an alternative way to increase cardiac rehabilitation participation and reduce health care costs.

Lear also presented work done by himself and PhD graduate Dr. Farias-Godoy, which showed that a "reduced" cardiac rehabilitation program may be an alternative to a regular program. These reduced programs allowed patients to attend fewer in-hospital classes with similar results to full programs.

Also discussed at the meeting was the importance of increasing referrals to cardiac rehabilitation to ensure that all patients are getting access to these highly effective programs. Capacity also needs to increase to ensure that programs are able to accept an increasing number of patient referrals.

Cardiac rehabilitation is an essential component in the recovery of cardiac patients, and the healthcare system needs to be innovative to meet the needs of these patients.