Background: Heart failure, a condition predominantly affecting the elderly, represents an ever-increasing clinical and financial burden for the NHS. Cardiac rehabilitation, a service that incorporates patient education, exercise training and lifestyle modification, requires further evaluation in heart failure management.
Aim: The aim of this study was to determine whether a cardiac rehabilitation programme improved on the outcomes of an outpatient heart failure clinic (standard care) for patients, over 60 years of age, with chronic heart failure.
Methods: Two hundred patients (60-89 years, 66% male) with New York Heart Association (NYHA) II or III heart failure confirmed by echocardiography were randomised. Both standard care and experimental groups attended clinic with a cardiologist and specialist nurse every 8 weeks. Interventions included exercise prescription, education, dietetics, occupational therapy and psychosocial counselling. The main outcome measures were functional status (NYHA, 6-min walk), health-related quality of life (MLHF and EuroQol) and hospital admissions.
Results: There were significant improvements in MLHF and EuroQol scores, NYHA classification and 6-min walking distance (meters) at 24 weeks between the groups (p<0.001). The experimental group had fewer admissions (11 vs. 33, p<0.01) and spent fewer days in hospital (41 vs. 187, p<0.001).
Conclusions: Cardiac rehabilitation, already widely established in the UK, offers an effective model of care for older patients with heart failure.