TUESDAY, Aug. 31, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Cardiac rehabilitation improves survival in heart attack patients by more than 50 percent, says a Mayo Clinic study.
The study included 1,821 residents of Olmstead County, Minn., who survived heart attacks between 1982 and 1998 and were sent home from the hospital after their recovery. The study concluded that non-participation in cardiac rehabilitation was responsible for 48 percent of the deaths among this group of patients within three years after they were discharged.
Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised exercise program designed to help patients regain their strength after a heart attack or heart surgery.
"On average, for patients who participated in cardiac rehab, it was almost as if the heart attack never had happened. They had the same three-year survival as what would be expected from area residents of the same age and sex who had not suffered heart attacks," cardiologist and study lead author Dr. Veronique Roger said in a prepared statement.
"Increased participation in cardiac rehabilitation could lead to improved survival among a large proportion of heart attack patients," she said.
Women and elderly heart attack patients were less likely to take part in cardiac rehabilitation, the study said.
"Our study was not designed to answer exactly why some groups are less likely to participate, but some key issues for women may be a lack of transportation and support networks. They may not see rehab as important, or they may need to care for a spouse who may also be ill," Roger said.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about life after a heart attack.