Cardiac Rehabilitation Without Exercise Tests for Post-Myocardial Infarction and Post-Bypass Surgery Patients

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Abstract

Purpose.

To compare the progress of patients who were exercise tested before or during cardiac rehabilitation versus those patients who were not tested.

Methods.

Eighty-eight (88) post-myocardial infarction patients and 141 post-bypass surgery patients had a symptom-limited exercise test before or during 12 weeks of cardiac rehabilitation. Another 125 post-myocardial infarction and 146 post-surgery patients were not tested.

Results.

Caloric expenditure during class increased for the entire group (P < 0.001) from week 1 to week 12. Body weight decreased for the entire group as a result of cardiac rehabilitation (P < 0.001). Tricep skinfolds decreased for the entire group (P < 0.001) while subscapular skinfolds did not change (P = 0.28). The percent change from week 1 to week 12 for both groups was similar for all variables. No problems occurred during cardiac rehabilitation that required emergency medical management.

Conclusions.

Patients completing a 12-week cardiac rehabilitation program can be safely progressed in terms of their exercise capacity without an entry exercise test. This is desirable in a managed-care setting for reducing costs while maintaining effective patient care. Such factors as staff training and experience, institutional philosophy, patient referral patterns, and facility location must be considered before adopting a no-test policy.

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