October 28, 2010

Rehab Rebels: Women and Elderly Top the List

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A game of hooky anyone?  When it comes to attending cardiac rehabilitation women and elderly top the charts for being no shows.

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, Dr. Billie Jean Martin, surgical trainee at University Calgary/Libin Cardiovascular Institute, was quoted as saying.

"These two high-risk but universally undertreated groups are less likely to attend cardiac rehab than their younger, male counterparts even when they are referred," Dr. Martin is quoted as saying.

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 hospitalization and a significantly lower risk of death.

"Cardiac rehab had a greater impact on mortality in women and in the elderly," Dr. Martin stated, 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."

Why don't women enter cardiac rehab as often as men? There are multiple reasons.

The most common 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," Dr. Beth Abramson, Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson, was quoted as saying.

"Despite these benefits, the lower attendance rate of women compared to men is well documented."

Shamila Shanmugasegaram, a Ph.D. student under the supervision of Dr. Sherry Grace at York University and her research team believe there may be a simple, effective solution: "Referral to a structured and monitored home-based cardiac rehab program could allow patients to overcome many of these barriers," she says. "Home settings are just as effective as hospital settings."

SOURCE:  Heart and Stroke Foundation, October 2010