Objectives: Adverse behavioral profiles, particularly depression and hostility, increase the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) and affect recovery after CAD events. We sought to determine the effects of outpatient phase II cardiac rehabilitation and exercise training (CRET) programs in CAD patients with high levels of psychological distress.
Methods: We studied 500 consecutive patients both before and after phase II CRET programs and compared 109 patients with the highest quintile of psychological distress (HD) with 115 patients with the lowest quintile of psychological distress (LD).
Results: At baseline, patients with HD were younger (P < 0.001), had higher weight (+11%; P < 0.001), body mass indices (BMI) (+9%; P < 0.01), triglycerides (+66%; P < 0.0001), and glycosylated hemoglobin (+9%; P = 0.03), and had higher scores for depression, hostility, anxiety, and somatization (all P < 0.0001), but had lower values for exercise capacity (-15%; P = 0.02), high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (-10%; P < 0.01), and total quality of life (QoL) (-26%; P < 0.0001), and all 6 major components of QoL compared with LD. After CRET, patients with HD had significant reductions in weight (-2%; P < 0.01), % fat (-6%; P < 0.001), BMI (-2%, P < 0.01), and scores for anxiety (-49%), depression (-47%), somatization (-34%) and hostility (-38%) (all P < 0.0001), and increases in exercise capacity (+54%; P < 0.0001), HDL cholesterol (+10%; P < 0.0001), and total QoL (+23%; P < 0.0001), and the 6 components of QoL studied. Compared with patients with LD, those with HD had statistically greater improvements in HDL (P = 0.03), triglycerides (P = 0.03), BMI (P = 0.02), as well as all behavioral characteristics and QoL (P < 0.0001), and had similar improvements in all other factors assessed.
Conclusions: These data support the routine assessment of high-risk behavioral characteristics in patients with CAD and demonstrate the marked improvements that occur after phase II CRET programs in CAD patients with high psychological distress.