Aim: To describe lifestyle and risk-factor management in patients attending cardiac rehabilitation programmes (CRPs) compared to those who do not.
Design: A cross-sectional survey.
Methods: The EUROASPIRE III survey was conducted in 76 centres in 22 European countries. Consecutive patients having had a coronary event or revascularization before the age of 80 were identified and interviewed at least 6 months after hospital admission.
Results: 13,935 medical records were reviewed and 8845 patients interviewed (participation rate 73%); 44.8% of patients reported being advised to attend a CRP and of these 81.4% did so (36.5% of all patients). There were wide variations between countries and diagnostic categories, ranging from 15.9% in the Ischaemia group to 68.1% in the CABG group. Characteristics associated with participation in a CRP included younger age, male sex, higher educational level and CABG as a recruiting index event, while smokers were less likely to attend a CRP. Patients who attended a CRP had a significantly lower prevalence of smoking, better control of total and LDL-cholesterol and higher use of beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors/ARBs and lipid-lowering drugs.
Conclusions: CRPs in Europe are underused, with poor referral and low participation rate and wide variations between countries. Despite this heterogeneity, the control of smoking and cholesterol and the use of cardioprotective medication is better in those who attend a CPR. There is an urgent need for comprehensive, multidisciplinary rehabilitation programmes to integrate professional lifestyle interventions with effective risk-factor management, appropriately adapted to the medical, cultural and economic settings of a country.
Keywords: EUROASPIRE III; attendance; cardiac rehabilitation; cardiovascular prevention; coronary patients; risk factor management.