Background: To determine the effectiveness of home-based cardiac rehabilitation programmes compared with (i) usual care and (ii) supervised centre-based cardiac rehabilitation on mortality, health related quality of life and modifiable cardiac risk factors of patients with coronary heart disease.
Methods: Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.
Main outcome measures: mortality, smoking cessation, exercise capacity, systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, psychological status, and health related quality of life.
Results: Eighteen included trials for home versus usual rehabilitation and six trials of home versus supervised centre-based rehabilitation were identified. The home-based interventions were clinically heterogeneous, trials often small, with quality poorly reported. Compared with usual care, home-based cardiac rehabilitation had a 4 mm Hg (95% CI 6.5, 1.5) greater reduction in systolic blood pressure, and a reduced relative risk of being a smoker at follow-up (RR 0.71, 95% CI 0.51, 1.00). Differences in exercise capacity, total cholesterol, anxiety and depression were all in favour of the home-based group. In patients post-myocardial infarction exercise capacity was significantly improved in the home rehabilitation group by 1.1 METS (95% CI 0.2, 2.1) compared to usual care. The comparison of home-based with supervised centre-based cardiac rehabilitation revealed no significant differences in exercise capacity, systolic blood pressure and total cholesterol.
Conclusions: Current evidence does not show home-based cardiac rehabilitation to be significantly inferior to centre-based rehabilitation for low-risk cardiac patients. However, the numbers of patients included are less than 750 and ongoing trials will contribute to the debate on the acceptability, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of home-based cardiac rehabilitation.