Comprehensive Cardiac Rehabilitation for Secondary Prevention After Transient Ischemic Attack or Mild Stroke: PSYCHOLOGICAL PROFILE AND OUTCOMES

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Having previously reported that comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation (CCR) is effective for secondary prevention post-transient ischemic attack (TIA)/mild nondisabling stroke (MNDS), we present psychometric findings for the same sample that elucidate subacute TIA/MNDS psychological outcomes and test whether CCR would be independently associated with psychological improvements.


In this prospective cohort trial patients with ≥1 risk factor, recruited from a stroke prevention clinic within 12 months (mean = 11.5 weeks) post-TIA/MNDS, entered CCR.


Of the 110 recruited patients, 100 (mean age = 65.4 years; 46 females) entered CCR and 80 completed CCR (mean duration = 7.6 months). At CCR entry, 16.5% and 39.2% screened positively for depression and anxiety, decreasing nonsignificantly at exit to 4.2%, and significantly to 16.9% (P = .008), respectively. Age-corrected deficits occurred more frequently than expected (P ≤ .03); at entry, mental health status (13.3%), clock-drawing (31.6%), oral-verbal fluency (16.9%), word-list learning (11.2%), and recall (12.6%); at exit, clock-drawing (30.0%). Entry-to-exit, mean depression, anxiety, mental and physical health status, word-list learning, memory, digit-symbol coding, and oral-verbal fluency scores improved significantly (P ≤ .031). No reliable change indices were significant. Psychological service recipients improved significantly more than nonrecipients in depression (P = .049). Baseline North American Adult Reading Test score predicted exercise attendance (R = 0.275; P = .044); New York Heart Association (NYHA) class and depression score predicted exit physical health status (R = 0.770, P < .001); and depression score predicted exit mental health status (R = 0.523, P < .001).


Anxiety and executive dysfunction persisted post-TIA/MNDS. Although promising for secondary prevention post-TIA/MNDS, CCR was not independently associated with psychological improvements. CCR psychological treatment may benefit depression. Subacute NYHA class and depression may later affect quality of life.

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