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Many Coronary Artery Disease Patients Not Referred to Rehab

Coronary artery disease patients who are older or have comorbidities less likely to be referred

TUESDAY, July 28 (HealthDay News) -- Just a little more than half of hospitalized patients with coronary artery disease are referred to cardiac rehabilitation at discharge, according to a study in the August 4 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Todd M. Brown, M.D., from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, and colleagues analyzed data from the American Heart Association's Get With The Guidelines program on 72,817 patients with coronary artery disease discharged alive after a myocardial infarction, percutaneous coronary intervention, or coronary artery bypass graft surgery.

The researchers found that only 56 percent of patients were referred to cardiac rehabilitation at discharge overall, ranging from 53 percent for myocardial infarction patients to 74 percent for coronary artery bypass graft surgery patients. The likelihood of referral fell with increased age, non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction, and the presence of most comorbidities. Patients were more likely to be referred if they had a history of dyslipidemia or smoking.

"Despite strong evidence for benefit, only 56 percent of eligible coronary artery disease patients discharged from these hospitals were referred to cardiac rehabilitation," Brown and colleagues conclude. "Increased physician awareness about the benefits of cardiac rehabilitation and initiatives to overcome barriers to referral are critical to improve the quality of care of patients with coronary artery disease."

The Get with the Guidelines program is partially funded by an unrestricted educational grant from the Merck/Schering-Plough Partnership. Several of the authors reported financial or consulting relationships with pharmaceutical companies, including Merck/Schering-Plough.

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