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Most Heart Patients Skimp on Exercise After Rehab

A year later, only 37 percent were doing cardio exercises 3 times a week, study finds

FRIDAY, June 18, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Only about one-third of cardiac patients were doing regular heart-healthy exercises a year after a heart attack, bypass surgery or angioplasty, researchers have found.

The Case Western Reserve University research team followed 248 patients after they completed a 12-week cardio rehabilitation program to help train them to exercise. Exercise patterns in the longitudinal study were tracked through heart monitors worn by the patients. After one year, only 37 percent of the patients were exercising even three times a week, the investigators found.

Women were less likely than men to exercise, while younger men were more likely than women or older men to stick with their exercise program, the study authors noted.

"Many women traditionally put caretaking of their families before their health needs," lead investigator Mary Dolansky, an assistant professor of nursing, said in a university news release.

"The downward trend [in exercise] over time concerns us, especially since current guidelines suggest exercising five times a week," Dolansky added.

It may be necessary to develop new interventions to help cardiac patients realize that they need to make regular exercise a lifelong habit, she added.

The follow-up findings from the study, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, appeared recently in the journal Research in Gerontological Nursing.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about cardiac rehabilitation.

SOURCE: Case Western Reserve University, news release, June 15, 2010
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