Background: Screening results of EuroAspire III study have revealed the failure of effective correction of cardiovascular risk factors in all 22 participating EU countries. How long should cardiac rehabilitation programs last to impact motivation for lifestyle change?
Aim and objectives: To compare the impact of long-term (6 months) rehabilitation versus short-term (4 weeks) rehabilitation on the reduction of risk factors and cardiac events, as well as on the use of cardioprotective drugs.
Methods: Study contingent of 150 patients, suffering from functional class III-IV (NYHA) chronic heart failure caused by ischemic and hypertensive cardiomyopathy, was subjected to complex rehabilitation: exercise training, dietary corrections, and smoking cessation. The patients were divided into two groups: long-term rehabilitation group (n=80) and short-term rehabilitation group (n=70). Blood pressure, body mass index, dietary habits, dyslipidemia, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, chronic fatigue, and use of cardioprotective drugs were evaluated in all patients at the onset of study, after 4 weeks, and 6 months. Cardiovascular events were estimated throughout the whole 6-month period.
Results: In the long-term rehabilitation group, there was a significant reduction (P<0.05) in systolic blood pressure (151+/-9.2 vs. 135+/-9.7 mm Hg), diastolic blood pressure (92.3+/-6.5 vs. 75.4+/-3.8 mm Hg,) body mass index (35.4+/-3.5 vs. 27.2+/-4.8 kg/m(2)), dyslipidemia (56.3 vs. 23.4%), sedentary lifestyle (31.3 vs. 4.7%), and smoking (10.0 vs. 0%). The impact of a short-term rehabilitation was not significant. Because of cardiac events, 13 patients (16.3%) in the long-term rehabilitation group and 26 (16.3%) in the short-term rehabilitation group failed to complete the 6-month study (P<0.05). The following change in drug use pattern was noted in the long-term rehabilitation group: nitrates, 74 vs. 65%; digitalis, 42 vs. 32%; antiarrhythmic agents, 15 vs. 10%; statins, 36 vs. 20% (P<0.05). During 6 months, in both groups, because of better physician monitoring, there was no decrease in the use of major cardioprotective drugs, such as antiaggregants, beta-blockers, and ACE inhibitors.
Conclusions: Long-term (6 months) versus short-term (4 weeks) rehabilitation of cardiovascular patients significantly reduces manifestation of major cardiovascular risk factors, the rate of cardiac events, chronic fatigue and improves the use of cardioprotective drugs.