Cardiac rehabilitation in the elderly.
BACKGROUND: Although patients >/=65 years old account for the majority of cardiac admissions and procedures in the United States, studies of cardiac rehabilitation have traditionally focused on younger patients. Only recently has the effectiveness of cardiac rehabilitation in the elderly population begun to receive more attention. METHODS: We present a comprehensive literature review of studies that have looked specifically at the effectiveness of cardiac rehabilitation in the elderly. We discuss the methodologic limitations of studies to date, compare outcomes among elderly rehabilitation patients with those of younger patients, and examine barriers to participation among the elderly. RESULTS: The majority of studies published to date have been small observational case series. Despite these limitations, these studies generally show consistent improvements in exercise capacity, cardiac risk factors, and quality-of-life parameters in elderly cardiac rehabilitation patients. These benefits appear to be similar to those seen in younger patients. In spite of this, participation rates among the elderly are low, primarily because of less aggressive referral. CONCLUSIONS: Although further studies are necessary, the current literature shows that cardiac rehabilitation is associated with improved outcomes after a cardiac event, regardless of age. However, innovative recommendation and referral strategies are needed because few elderly patients actually enroll.
Pasquali, SK; Alexander, KP; Peterson, ED
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