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Cardiac Rehabilitation: Components, Benefits, and Barriers

Donna Polk, MD, MPH, and Diane Tran, MD

With the expanding and aging population, the prevalence of coronary heart disease (CHD) is escalating. Owing to advances in technological and medical treatment of CHD, more patients are surviving their index events and are, therefore, living longer, shifting the paradigm in the management of CHD to one of chronicity. The importance of cardiac rehabilitation (CR) as secondary prevention is evident from numerous randomized control trials demonstrating its mortality and morbidity benefit in patients with cardiovascular disease. However, despite its benefits, it is grossly underutilized. The identification of major barriers and under-represented groups such as women and the elderly is essential to the success of CR programs. Current CR programs include a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals that assists patients with chronic angina, recent coronary revascularization, valvular surgery, heart failure, and heart transplant to improve their cardiovascular fitness and quality of life. Acute Coronary Syndromes 2011;10(1):10–7.

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