Background: Survivors of an acute ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) remain at high risk for future cardiac events. Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) participation significantly reduces coronary artery disease (CAD) morbidity and mortality risk. Regrettably, poor utilization of CR services post STEMI is common, accentuating a critical action gap in the trajectory of CAD management. The objective of this study was to determine whether integration of an early cardiac access clinic (ECAC), held within 4-14 days of hospital discharge, could improve CR utilization rates following an STEMI.
Methods: Between January 2008 and July 2009, 245 consecutively admitted STEMI patients (19.6% female) deemed low risk following early re-establishment of coronary blood flow, were assigned to the ECAC model. An historic comparison group (n=224) was identified based on all STEMI patient admissions at the same tertiary care facility during the 2007 calendar year that met ECAC eligibility criteria. The primary outcomes were rates of CR referral, orientation attendance, program participation, and completion.
Results: The ECAC cohort had significantly higher rates of CR referral (100% vs 55.8%, P < 0.0001), orientation attendance (96.3 vs 37.1%, P < 0.0001), program participation (87.8% vs 33.5%, P < 0.0001), and completion (71.4% vs 29.9%, P < 0.001) compared to the matched historical comparison group.
Conclusions: The utilization of the ECAC model resulted in an unprecedented (∼3-fold) increase in the number of post-STEMI patients participating in CR. Given the unequivocal mortality and morbidity benefits of CR, adoption of the ECAC model has important clinical and economic relevance.
Copyright © 2011 Canadian Cardiovascular Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.