The study of 1,821 patients from Olmsted County, Minn., who had heart attacks between 1982 and 1998 and survived to go home from the hospital, found that nearly half (48 percent) of the deaths within three years of hospital discharge were attributable to not participating in cardiac rehabilitation.
“On average, for patients who participated in cardiac rehab, it was almost as if the heart attack never had happened. They had the same three-year survival as what would be expected from area residents of the same age and sex who had not suffered heart attacks,” says Veronique Roger, M.D., the Mayo Clinic cardiologist who led the study. “Increased participation in cardiac rehabilitation could lead to improved survival among a large proportion of heart attack patients.”
Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised exercise program that helps patients regain strength after a heart attack, bypass surgery or angioplasty. Olmsted County’s cardiac rehab participation is higher than the national average, so this study highlights the significant potential nationwide for improving survival if more patients get into exercise programs.
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