Schedule Cardiac Rehabilitation Early For Best Attendance
December 30, 2012

Earlier Scheduling Of Cardiac Rehab Sessions Increases Attendance

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports — Your Universe Online

Heart patients are more likely to show up to cardiac rehabilitation (CR) sessions if hospitals schedule them no longer than 10 days after the individual is discharged, a team of researchers from the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit has discovered.

As part of their research, which is detailed in the latest edition of the journal Circulation, lead author Dr. Quinn Pack and colleagues write that the recruited 148 patients who had a non-surgical qualifying diagnosis for cardiac rehabilitation were chosen at random to receive a CR orientation appointment either 10 days following discharge, or 35 days after being sent home from the hospital.

According to Reuters Health Reporter Andrew M. Seaman, they discovered the earlier scheduled orientation sessions had 18 percent greater attendance than those scheduled at the regular time.

The early group received appointments an average of 8.5 days after discharge, with 77 percent of the 74 patients in this group showing up for the scheduled session. Conversely, the other group's sessions were scheduled an average of 42 days later and were only attended by 59 percent of the 74 patients, Seaman added.

"This is really a substantial effect size," Dr. Pack, who is also affiliated with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, told Reuters Health. "This is not a hard thing to do. You just have to give people an appointment before they leave the hospital."

He also emphasized the importance of the rehab sessions for patients who have had heart attacks, undergone bypass procedures or had stents implanted as a result of cardiovascular issues.

Dr. Pack says the positive impact of the sessions, which help patients begin exercising while also teaching them how to live healthy lifestyles, has been "well established" for more than three decades.

"The biggest problem with it is that people don't go," he said, adding that only an average of 30 percent of heart attack survivors participate in the programs. "I think what actually happens is people go home and they're scared to exercise and (they) go back to their dietary habits“¦ and you are not able to capitalize on that habit change initiative."

However, as Dr. Pack told Seaman, scheduling is only one hurdle keeping people from attending CR sessions. Another, he says, is insurance-related - specifically, pre-authorization for participation in the programs. The study author says pre-authorization is "an obstacle that we really have to remove. We have to take out the paperwork, the middleman and just get people moving."