Comprehensive Cardiac Rehabilitation Improves the Control of Dyslipidemia in Secondary Prevention

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Secondary prevention is an important goal of cardiac rehabilitation in patients with coronary heart disease (CHD). Dyslipidemia is one of the major risk factors that is important to control to reduce the incidence of future ischemic coronary events. The aim of the present study was to assess whether control of dyslipidemia, in secondary prevention, could be improved by a comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation program.


Fifty-two newly diagnosed hyperlipidemic men, who had experienced a recent CHD event, were separated in two equal groups of 26 patients: group CR+, in which patients were included in a 2-month cardiac rehabilitation program including an extensive educational program on cardiovascular risk factors, lipids, and diet, and group CR− without any cardiac rehabilitation. Mean age, body mass index, initial levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and LDL/HDL ratio were not significantly different between the 2 groups. In both groups, each patient was referred to a dietitian and to the same lipidologist to start an appropriate hypolipidemic treatment. Treatment of coronary event, type of hyperlipidemia, and hypolipidemic treatment were not different between the two groups.


Lipid measurements, performed 3 months after the beginning of the hypolipidemic treatment, showed that patients from the CR+ group, compared with those from the CR− group, had a significantly greater reduction of total cholesterol (23% versus 13%; P < 0.001), of LDL cholesterol (28% versus 12%; P < 0.001), of LDL/HDL ratio (34% versus 13%; P < 0.01) and of triglycerides (33% versus 21%; P = 0.05).


Patients with CHD included in a comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation program showed a significantly better response to the hypolipidemic treatment than patients without cardiac rehabilitation. These results could be attributable to the extensive educational program on secondary prevention performed during cardiac rehabilitation, leading to optimized knowledge on lipid-lowering diet and to improved diet and drug adherence. A secondary prevention educational program must be an important part of any comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation program in patients with CHD.

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