The Cardiac Rehabilitation Model Improves Fitness, Quality of Life, and Depression in Breast Cancer Survivors

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Abstract

Purpose:

Exercise is a demonstrated, therapeutic strategy for cancer survivors to minimize many treatment-induced side effects and may decrease risk of recurrence. Nonetheless, structured programs that combine exercise and education are not yet standardized within cancer care. The Health, Exercise, Active Living, Therapeutic lifestyle (HEALTh) program is a clinical exercise program based on the established cardiac rehabilitation model, but customized for female breast cancer survivors. This study assessed the effects of a cardiac rehabilitation program on cardiorespiratory fitness, quality of life, and depressive symptoms in breast cancer survivors.

Methods:

Charts were reviewed to evaluate the cardiac rehabilitation model. The program consisted of 1 weekly supervised session for 22 group sessions. Each patient was provided with personalized aerobic and resistance exercises plus 12 group educational sessions to encourage behavioral adoption to a healthy lifestyle. Cardiorespiratory fitness (direct VO2peak), quality of life (Short Form-36 Health Status [SF-36] and Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Breast [FACT-B]), and depression (Centre of Epidemiological Studies Depression [CES-D]) were assessed at baseline and after program completion.

Results:

Two hundred seventy-four files were accessed with 152 eligible files analyzed. Baseline cardiorespiratory fitness and quality-of-life values were below population norms. Program adherence was 66.6%. Cardiorespiratory fitness improved by 14% (21 ± 6 to 24 ± 7 mL/kg/min, P < .001), with significant improvements in quality of life (P < .001) and depression scores (P = .019). Bodily pain was the only domain not significantly affected (P = .311).

Conclusion:

The cardiac rehabilitation model improved physical and mental health in breast cancer survivors. These results provide support for the collaborative effort between cardiology and oncology to improve patient care across the cancer care continuum.

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