Risk factors

Cardiac rehab has room to move: physical activity recs unmet

Cardiac rehabilitation patients are still sitting too much and not moving enough despite a traditional six-week, hospital-based cardiac rehab program.

According to a prospective study of 72 patients with stable cardiovascular disease, an exercise-based rehab program is not achieving the ultimate goal of getting patients active enough to be consistent with guidelines.

Patients in the study wore accelerometers for seven consecutive days before and after their participation in the cardiac rehabilitation program.

The study found there was no change in sedentary behavior or moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) at the end of the cardiac rehab program.

Only 15-16% of patients met the recommended physical activity guidelines of 150 minutes MVPA per week.

“On average, participants were spending 10 min/day in MVPA, with no change over six weeks,” the study said.

However post-cardiac rehabilitation patients did increase their exercise capacity and participation in light physical activity.

They also had lower blood pressure, improved quality of life scores, less depression and a longer six-minute walk test.

Physiotherapist Dr Nicole Freene from the University of Canberra, said further follow-up of the patients showed there was little change over 12 months.

“We did find, importantly, that light physical activity improved. That’s important; we shouldn’t dismiss that,” she said.

However she suspected patients were being asked to change too much too soon including other risk factors such as diet and smoking.

“Maybe we just need to focus on sedentary behavior at first and translate that to light physical activity and later to moderate physical activity; gradually move them along the energy expenditure continuum.”

She added that despite the known benefits of cardiac rehabilitation, only about 10-30% of patients who would benefit currently attend.

Clinicians should continue to reinforce the importance of meeting physical activity guidelines, including breaking up long periods of sitting as often as possible.

“For those who do go to cardiac rehab, we need to encourage them to sit less and move more. And for those who don’t go, we still need to encourage them to sit less and move more.”

Already a member?

Login to keep reading.

Email me a login link

© 2022 the limbic