Objective: To evaluate the long-term effect of a cardiac rehabilitation and prevention program (CRPP) on quality of life (QOL) and its cost effectiveness.
Design: Prospective, randomized controlled trial.
Setting: University-affiliated outpatient cardiac rehabilitation and prevention center.
Participants: A total of 269 patients (76% men; mean age, 64+/-11 y) with recent acute myocardial infarction (AMI; n=193) or after elective percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI; n=76) were randomized in a ratio of 2 to 1.
Intervention: Patients received either CRPP (an 8-wk exercise and education class in phase 2) or conventional therapy without exercise program (control group). They were followed until they had completed all 4 phases of the program (ie, 2 y).
Main outcome measures: QOL assessments, by using the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) and Symptoms Questionnaire, were performed at the end of each phase. Direct health care cost was calculated, whereas cost utility was estimated as money spent (in US dollars) per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) gained.
Results: In the CRPP group, 6 of the 8 SF-36 dimensions improved significantly by phase 2 and were maintained throughout the study period. Patients were less anxious and depressed, and felt more relaxed and contented. In the control group, none of the SF-36 dimensions were improved by phase 2, and bodily pain was increased. In phase 4, only 4 dimensions were improved. Symptoms were unchanged except for increased hostility score. There was a significant gain in net time trade-off in the CRPP group after phase 2. The direct health care expenses in the CRPP and control groups were 15,292 dollars and 15,707 dollars per patient, respectively. Therefore, the cost utility calculated was 640 dollars saved per QALY gained. Savings attributable to CRPP were primarily explained by the lower rate (13% vs 26% of patients, chi2 test=3.9, P <.05) and cost of subsequent PCI (P =.01).
Conclusions: In an era of managing patients with coronary heart disease, a short-course CRPP was highly cost effective in providing better QOL to patients with recent AMI or after elective PCI. In addition, the improvement of QOL was quick and sustained for at least 2 years after CRPP.