Cardiorespiratory comorbidity: a new challenge for physical and rehabilitation medicine specialist

Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2012 Mar;48(1):1-8. Epub 2011 Oct 26.


Background: The cardiorespiratory comorbidity can reduce the participation in the rehabilitation project of patients with motor disorders.

Aim: The first aim of the study was to assess the frequency of cardiopulmonary comorbidity in inpatient rehabilitation units in Italy. The second aim was to evaluate the influence of cardiorespiratory comorbidity on some process and outcome indicators.

Design: Data collection with a questionnaire sent to Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine specialists.

Setting: Inpatient Rehabilitation Units.

Population: Patients admitted to Rehabilitation Units with neurological and orthopedic disability.

Methods: A questionnaire was sent to 33 Rehabilitation Units in Italy.

Outcome: Length of stay in hospital (LOS), percentage of transfer to acute wards, level of satisfaction of the Physicians related to the degree of functional recovery of patients with cardiopulmonary comorbidity. In a subgroup of patients with and without cardiopulmonary comorbidity indicators were also used to retrospectively assess functional recovery during the hospitalization.

Results: Analysis were made on 16 complete responses received. Data of 909 subjects were evaluated. The mean incidence of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases is high: 61.50%. The length of hospitalization (LOS) in patients with cardiac and respiratory comorbidity is significantly longer than in subjects without associated disease (46.55, SD 21.00 days vs. 37.26, SD 18.97; P<0.05). The number of transfers to acute wards is significantly higher in subjects with cardiorespiratory comorbidity (8.62% vs. 2.44%; P<0.05). Eleven out of 16 medical doctors (69%) said they were "quite satisfied" for the degree of functional recovery of patients with comorbidity. A group of patients with neurological disabilities associated with cardiorespiratory disease had significantly lower Functional Independence Measure (FIM) score at admission (55.36, SD 20.62, vs. 73.72, SD 22.15; P<0.05) than these without comorbidity. At discharge the subjects of the two groups assessed, independently from the presence of cardiorespiratory comorbidity, present no statistically significant difference of FIM scale values.

Conclusion: The high frequency of cardiorespiratory comorbidity in patients with motor disorders negatively influenced the LOS and percentage of transfer to acute wards but not necessarily the functional results. It is, therefore, necessary to train the medical doctor who specializes in physical and rehabilitation medicine also in the clinical management of complex patients.

Clinical rehabilitation impact: The results of the survey suggest that rehabilitation is useful even in patients with motor disorders and cardiorespiratory comordibity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Comorbidity / trends
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Female
  • Heart Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Heart Diseases / rehabilitation
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Patient Discharge / statistics & numerical data*
  • Rehabilitation Centers*
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / rehabilitation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Workforce