Purpose: To examine the effectiveness of cardiac rehabilitation on health status following coronary artery bypass surgery.
Methods: A prospective cohort study of patients having coronary artery bypass surgery at 14 centers in the state of Washington. Baseline clinical and demographic data were collected, as was information from the Rand Short Form, 36 (SF-36), the Seattle Angina Questionnaire, and other questions regarding health status before surgery and at 6 and 12 months after surgery. In the 12-month follow-up survey, subjects were asked to complete questions pertaining to their participation in postdischarge cardiac rehabilitation programs.
Results: A total of 947 subjects from 13 centers received 1-year follow-up surveys, with 75% responding. Of these, 691 (95%) answered questions about participation in cardiac rehabilitation programs. SF-36 and Seattle Angina Questionnaire scores improved significantly after surgery for both cardiac rehabilitation participants and nonparticipants. Although more than 90% of subjects who participated in the cardiac rehabilitation programs stated that they were beneficial, for eight SF-36 domains and five Seattle Angina Questionnaire domains, no significant associations were found with participation in cardiac rehabilitation. When the participation status was defined as only those participants who completed at least 8 weeks of cardiac rehabilitation, only 1 of 13 health status domains favored cardiac rehabilitation. Responses to a series of questions about perceptions of change in general and cardiac-specific health did not differ among participants and nonparticipants.
Conclusions: Although patients report favorable impressions of cardiac rehabilitation after coronary artery bypass surgery, it does not appear to provide a measurable benefit in self-reported health status beyond that achieved from the revascularization procedure itself.