Relationship Between Cardiac Rehabilitation and Long-Term Risks of Death and Myocardial Infarction Among Elderly Medicare Beneficiaries


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Abstract

Background—For patients with coronary heart disease, exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation improves survival rate and has beneficial effects on risk factors for coronary artery disease. The relationship between the number of sessions attended and long-term outcomes is unknown.Methods and Results—In a national 5% sample of Medicare beneficiaries, we identified 30 161 elderly patients who attended at least 1 cardiac rehabilitation session between January 1, 2000, and December 31, 2005. We used a Cox proportional hazards model to estimate the relationship between the number of sessions attended and death and myocardial infarction (MI) at 4 years. The cumulative number of sessions was a time-dependent covariate. After adjustment for demographic characteristics, comorbid conditions, and subsequent hospitalization, patients who attended 36 sessions had a 14% lower risk of death (hazard ratio [HR], 0.86; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.77 to 0.97) and a 12% lower risk of MI (HR, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.83 to 0.93) than those who attended 24 sessions; a 22% lower risk of death (HR, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.71 to 0.87) and a 23% lower risk of MI (HR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.69 to 0.87) than those who attended 12 sessions; and a 47% lower risk of death (HR, 0.53; 95% CI, 0.48 to 0.59) and a 31% lower risk of MI (HR, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.58 to 0.81) than those who attended 1 session.Conclusions—Among Medicare beneficiaries, a strong dose–response relationship existed between the number of cardiac rehabilitation sessions and long-term outcomes. Attending all 36 sessions reimbursed by Medicare was associated with lower risks of death and MI at 4 years compared with attending fewer sessions.

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