While cardiac rehabilitation in patients with ischaemic heart disease and heart failure is considered cost-effective, this evidence may not be transferable to heart valve surgery patients. The aim of this study was to investigate the cost-effectiveness of cardiac rehabilitation following heart valve surgery.Design
We conducted a cost–utility analysis based on a randomised controlled trial of 147 patients who had undergone heart valve surgery and were followed for 6 months.Methods
Patients were randomised to cardiac rehabilitation consisting of 12 weeks of physical exercise training and monthly psycho-educational consultations or to usual care. Costs were measured from a societal perspective and quality-adjusted life years were based on the EuroQol five-dimensional questionnaire (EQ-5D). Estimates were presented as means and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) based on bootstrapping. Costs and effect differences were presented in a cost-effectiveness plane and were transformed into net benefit and presented in cost-effectiveness acceptability curves.Results
No statistically significant differences were found in total societal costs (–1609 Euros; 95% CI: –6162 to 2942 Euros) or in quality-adjusted life years (–0.000; 95% CI –0.021 to 0.020) between groups. However, approximately 70% of the cost and effect differences were located below the x-axis in the cost-effectiveness plane, and the cost-effectiveness acceptability curves showed that the probability for cost- effectiveness of cardiac rehabilitation compared to usual care is at minimum 75%, driven by a tendency towards costs savings.Conclusions
Cardiac rehabilitation after heart valve surgery may not have improved health-related quality of life in this study, but is likely to be cost-effective for society, outweighing the extra costs of cardiac rehabilitation.