Is Your Cardiac Rehab Program Keeping Up With the Latest Studies? $0.00

Is Your Cardiac Rehab Program Keeping Up With the Latest Studies?

By: Morgan Callard |
Is Your Cardiac Rehab Program Keeping Up With the Latest Studies?

You already know cardiac rehabilitation matters. One study found that patients who use cardiac rehab after a heart attack were 53% less likely to die from any cause and 57% less likely to experience a cardiac-related death compared to those who didn’t use cardiac rehab.[1]

But only ⅓ of heart attack survivors use cardiac rehabilitation.[1] Getting heart attack survivors and patients with other heart conditions in rehab is vital, but so is the program you have for them to participate in.

Your comprehensive cardiac rehab program may include:

  • Supervised physical activity and exercises patients can continue when they go home
  • Education on healthy eating, the importance of taking medication as prescribed, and ways to quit smoking
  • Counseling to help your patients relieve stress and improve their mental health

But are you keeping up with the latest trends in cardiac rehab?

Patient Demographics Are Changing According to a 20 Year Study
An Increased Need for Patient Tailored Cardiac Rehab Programs
Equipment for Cardiac Rehabilitation
Who Is Less Likely to Go To or Complete on Cardiac Rehabilitation
In Conclusion

Do your patients a favor by reviewing this new study!

Patient Demographics Are Changing According to a 20 Year Study

Title: Clinical and Demographic Trends in Cardiac Rehabilitation: 1996-2015 [2]

Participants: 5,396 patients who received cardiac rehab from the University of Vermont Medical Center between 1996-2005

Study Summary: This study analyzed data from a systematically and prospectively gathered database including reasons for participation in cardiac rehabilitation, age, sex, BMI, medications taken, and the presence of comorbidities.

Key Findings

  • The mean age increased from 60.7 years to 64.2 years.
  • Women’s enrollment increased from 26.8% to 29.6%
  • Index diagnosis shifted
    • Coronary artery bypass surgery decreased from 37.2% to 21.6%
      • Coronary artery bypass grafting improves poor blood flow to the heart by using blood vessels from other parts of the body to bypass narrowed or blocked coronary arteries (by connecting the vessels to other blood vessels above and below the narrowed artery) [3]
    • Heart valve repair/replacement increased from 0% to 10.6%
      • Heart valve repair surgery uses a ring to support the damaged valve while heart valve replacement surgery uses an artificial valve (made from carbon coated plastic, animal valves, or donated human valves) to replace the diseased valve [4]
  • Risk factors also shifted
    • Body mass index (BMI) increased from 28.7 to 29.6 kg/m
    • Patients reporting current smoking increased from 6.6% to 8.4%
    • Obesity increased from 33.2% to 39.6%
    • Hypertension increased from 51% to 62.5%
    • Type 2 diabetes mellitus increased from 17.3% to 21.7%
  • The proportion of patients on statin therapy increased from 63.9% to 98.9%, coinciding with significant improvements in lipid levels
    • Statins are drugs used to lower LDL cholesterol and slow the formation of plaque in your arteries. They include atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol XL), lovastatin (Altoprev), pitavastatin (Livalo), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor, Ezallor) and simvastatin (Zocor, FloLipid) [5,6]

An Increased Need for Patient Tailored Cardiac Rehab Programs

This study shows a changing diversity in patient demographics.

The study abstract states that “Clinical programs need to recognize changing characteristics of attendees to best tailor interventions.”[2]

While patients entering cardiac rehab in 2015 were older, more overweight, and had a higher prevalence of coronary risk factors, there was still diversity in the demographics.[2] It’s important to have a program that can meet the needs of all the participants, including exercise equipment for all skill levels.

Equipment for Cardiac Rehabilitation

1. Treadmill


Treadmills are great pieces of equipment to use during cardiac rehab because the variety of settings allow them to be used while walking or running. One of our top equipment picks is the SportsArt T655MS Medical Treadmill, which is designed for cardiac rehabilitation. Choose from a variety of programs and options that monitor heart rate, speed, distance, and more. Your patients can even use the medical side rails for support.

The Landice L790 & L890 RTM Rehab Treadmills have a variety of add on options including reversing the treadbelt for downhill walking, a 100 micro-amp hospital isolation leakage kit, and an orthopedic suspension system.

2. Elliptical


Ellipticals are a great low-impact form of cardiac exercise. SCIFIT SXT7000E2 Ellipticals are designed for use by every ability level thanks to medical handrails, an easy step up platform, Orthopedic Bi-Flex footbeds that improve circulation.

If that elliptical isn’t quite what you’re looking for, check out our other options. The Body Solid Endurance E5000 Elliptical includes a chest strap that sends your heart rate to the elliptical which then adjusts the program according to your heart rate goal.

Both offer a variety of programs, allowing you to select the best option for your patient.

3. Bike


Don’t forget the bikes! The SportsArt C521M Recumbent Rehab Cycle is a great addition to your cardiac rehab plan. It’s designed for therapy and rehab patients with features like a reclining seat, step through design, and bi-directional pedal rotation and resistance.

Cut the cord with TRUE CS900-9 Upright and Recumbent Bikes, the self-generating bike doesn’t need a power cord. Choose between an upright version with a low step up height or recumbent version with no frame to step over. Both bikes offer a variety of programs including manual, heart rate control, pace intervals, hills, and more!

4. Stair Stepper

Matrix Climbmills

Mastering stairs are a crucial part of all rehab programs. The MATRIX Climbmills has 10” deep steps that mimic walking up the stairs and can be used for a variety of programs including manual, intervals, target heart rate, and more. The steps lock in place at the lowest possible point making it easy for patients to get on and off of the machine.

If you’re looking to save space and money, consider the TRUE Spectrum Treadclimber. The combination exercise machine can be used as a stepper, elliptical, and runner.

5. Resistance Bands

TheraBand Latex-Free Resistance Band

While cardiac rehab naturally focuses on cardio exercises, they often incorporate strength training too. TheraBand Non-Latex Resistance Bands are a great option during group classes because of the variety of resistances. You can use the same exercises for a wide demographic by selecting the appropriate resistance for each individual patient. Plus, most exercises are easy to modify further, if needed.

Start planning how to incorporate resistance bands into your Cardiac Rehab Program by watching this video by Ransom Memorial Health.

Explore the rest of our cardio equipment here!

Equipment for Your Patients to Use at Home

Your patients can use the same TheraBand resistance bands or the CLX bands to continue strength training exercises at home.

While not all patients have access to a gym or large pieces of at home fitness equipment, encourage them to continue cardio exercise by suggesting other options. Walking, running, bike riding, jump roping, or playing an active sport are just a few ways your patients can continue to get the cardio exercise they need.

They can even workout while sitting at their desk using the Cubii Jr. pedal elliptical to supplement additional higher intensity workouts.

Who Is Less Likely to Go To or Complete on Cardiac Rehabilitation

  • Women
    • Studies show that women, especially minority women, are less likely to go to or complete cardiac rehab. [7]
    • This may be because doctors are less likely to suggest cardiac rehab to women. Make sure you recommend cardiac rehab to men and women after a heart attack or if they have a heart condition and could benefit from this rehabilitation.
  • Older adults
    • Older adults are also less likely to go to cardiac rehab. [7]
    • Many times they don’t attend because they think they will be unable to complete the exercises due to age or another condition (like arthritis). Take the time to explain what kind of exercises will take place and how they can be modified to meet their individual abilities.

In Conclusion

As the demographics of your patients change, your cardiac rehabilitation program needs to adapt too. Personalized exercise plans that account for individual abilities are needed. Whether you’re choosing different programs on cardio equipment or using different TheraBand resistances for the same exercises, you can help your patients succeed.

Keep your patients heart healthy! Share these resources with your patients:


Medical Disclaimer: The information provided on this site, including text, graphics, images and other material, are for informational purposes only and are not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other healthcare professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.