Exercise-based cardiovascular rehabilitation (CR) improves exercise capacity (EC), lowers cardiovascular risk profile and increases physical functioning in the short term. However, uptake of and adherence to a physically active lifestyle in the long run remain problematic. Home-based (HB) exercise programmes have been introduced in an attempt to enhance long-term adherence to recommended levels of physical activity (PA). The current systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to compare the longer-term effects of HB exercise programmes with usual care (UC) or centre-based (CB) CR in patients referred for CR.Design
Systematic review and meta-analysis.Methods
Non-randomised controlled trials (RCTs) or randomised trials comparing the effects of HB exercise programmes with UC or CB rehabilitation on EC and/or PA, with a follow-up period of ≥12 months and performed in coronary artery disease patients, were searched in four databases (PubMed, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled trials (CENTRAL)) from their inception until September 7, 2016. Standardised mean differences (SMDs) were calculated and pooled by means of random effects models. Risk of bias, publication bias and heterogeneity among trials were also assessed.Results
Seven studies could be included in the meta-analysis on EC, but only two studies could be included in the meta-analysis on PA (total number of 1440 patients). The results showed no significant differences in EC between HB rehabilitation and UC (SMD 0.10, 95% confidence interval (CI) –0.13 to 0.33). There was a small but significant difference in EC in favour of HB compared to CB rehabilitation (SMD 0.25, 95% CI 0.02–0.48). No differences were found for PA (SMD 0.37, 95% CI –0.18 to 0.92).Conclusions
HB exercise is slightly more effective than CB rehabilitation in terms of maintaining EC. The small number of studies warrants the need for more RCTs evaluating the long-term effects of different CR interventions on EC and PA behaviour, as this is the ultimate goal of CR.