Background: The CardioFit Internet-based expert system was designed to promote physical activity in patients with coronary heart disease (CHD) who were not participating in cardiac rehabilitation.
Design: This randomized controlled trial compared CardioFit to usual care to assess its effects on physical activity following hospitalization for acute coronary syndromes.
Methods: A total of 223 participants were recruited at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute or London Health Sciences Centre and randomly assigned to either CardioFit (n = 115) or usual care (n = 108). The CardioFit group received a personally tailored physical-activity plan upon discharge from the hospital and access to a secure website for activity planning and tracking. They completed five online tutorials over a 6-month period and were in email contact with an exercise specialist. Usual care consisted of physical activity guidance from an attending cardiologist. Physical activity was measured by pedometer and self-reported over a 7-day period, 6 and 12 months after randomization.
Results: The CardioFit Internet-based physical activity expert system significantly increased objectively measured (p = 0.023) and self-reported physical activity (p = 0.047) compared to usual care. Emotional (p = 0.038) and physical (p = 0.031) dimensions of heart disease health-related quality of life were also higher with CardioFit compared to usual care.
Conclusions: Patients with CHD using an Internet-based activity prescription with online coaching were more physically active at follow up than those receiving usual care. Use of the CardioFit program could extend the reach of rehabilitation and secondary-prevention services.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00265525.