Even though cardiac rehabilitation (CR) is strongly supported as an intervention for patients who have suffered a heart attack, too few people are getting referrals for CR programs, and an even smaller number is actually following through once they get a referral, according to a research letter recently published in JAMA.
Authors looked at CR enrollment and participation rates by comparing Medicare records of 58,269 acute myocardial infarction (AMI) patients with a national registry of coronary treatment intervention outcomes (National Cardiovascular Data Registry Acute Coronary Treatment Intervention Outcomes Registry). They found that between 2007 and 2010, only 64.2% of AMI patients were referred to CR at the time of hospital discharge, and only 12,000 of those patients attended at least 1 CR session during the following year.
Broken down in another way, the rates of CR referral and engagement are even more disappointing: according to the researchers, among all patients included in the study, only 23.1% attended at least 1 CR session. Just 5.4% completed 36 sessions or more—the number of sessions typically covered by health insurance.