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Cardiac Rehab: Many Women Missing Out on the Benefits
Cardiac rehabilitation is considered the pillar of preventing a second cardiac event yet those who stand to benefit the most – women and the elderly − are often missing out.
"These two high-risk but universally undertreated groups are less likely attend cardiac rehab than their younger, male counterparts even when they are referred," says Billie Jean Martin, surgical trainee at University Calgary/Libin Cardiovascular Institute. "And when women do attend cardiac rehab, they tend to present later and at a more serious stage of the disease."
The study of 6,000 people living with cardiovascular disease found that participation in cardiac rehab was associated with a decreased risk of emergency room visits and hospitalisation and a significantly lower risk of death.
"Cardiac rehab had a greater impact on mortality in women and in the elderly," says Martin, who also noted that fewer hospital visits had an impact on reducing health costs. "It is very beneficial in these two difficult-to-reach and at-risk populations but we are not very successful with getting them to attend."
She says that greater attention should be placed on referring all eligible patients to cardiac rehab irrespective of age and sex and that we should better address barriers to attendance.
The most common barriers to cardiac rehab for female heart patients include domestic care responsibilities, distance to the cardiac rehab facility, transportation problems, work responsibilities, lack of energy, time constraints, existing muscle and bone conditions, and pain.
"Cardiac rehab effectively reduces cardiac risk, decreases recurrence of cardiac events, and decreases mortality for both men and women," says Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson Beth Abramson. "Despite these benefits, the lower attendance rate of women compared to men is well documented."
Toronto researchers looked at the barriers and are calling for a structured, home-based, cardiac rehab program for women with heart disease. The biggest advantage is the flexibility structured home-based rehab offers in terms of hours and location.
REHACARE.de; Source: Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
- More about the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada at www.heartandstroke.com
( Source: REHACARE.de )