Comprehensive Cardiac Rehabilitation for Secondary Prevention After Transient Ischemic Attack or Mild Stroke: I Feasibility and Risk Factors

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Background and Purpose—Comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation (CCR), which integrates structured lifestyle interventions and medications, reduces morbidity and mortality among cardiac patients. CCR has not typically been used with cerebrovascular populations, despite important commonalities with heart patients. We tested feasibility and effectiveness of 6-month outpatient CCR for secondary prevention after transient ischemic attack or mild, nondisabling stroke. This article presents risk factors. A future article will discuss psychological outcomes.Methods—Consecutive consenting subjects having sustained a transient ischemic attack or mild, nondisabling stroke within the previous 12 months (mean, 11.5 weeks; event-to-CCR entry) with ≥1 vascular risk factor, were recruited from a stroke prevention clinic providing usual care. We measured 6-month CCR outcomes following a prospective cohort design.Results—Of 110 subjects recruited from January 2005 to April 2006, 100 subjects (mean age, 64.9 years; 46 women) entered and 80 subjects completed CCR. We obtained favorable, significant intake-to-exit changes in: aerobic capacity (+31.4%; P<0.001), total cholesterol (−0.30 mmol/L; P=0.008), total cholesterol/high-density lipoprotein (−11.6%; P<0.001), triglycerides (−0.27 mmol/L; P=0.003), waist circumference (−2.44 cm; P<0.001), body mass index (−0.53 kg/m2; P=0.003), and body weight (−1.43 kg; P=0.001). Low-density lipoprotein (−0.24 mmol/L), high-density lipoprotein (+0.06 mmol/L), systolic (−3.21 mm Hg) and diastolic (−2.34 mm Hg) blood pressure changed favorably, but nonsignificantly. A significant shift toward nonsmoking occurred (P=0.008). Compared with intake, 11 more individuals (25.6% increase) finished CCR in the lowest-mortality risk category of the Duke Treadmill Score (P<0.001).Conclusions—CCR is feasible and effective for secondary prevention after transient ischemic attack or mild, nondisabling stroke, offering a promising model for vascular protection across chronic disease entities. We know of no similar previous investigation, and are now conducting a randomized trial.

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