Global availability of cardiac rehabilitation

Nat Rev Cardiol. 2014 Oct;11(10):586-96. doi: 10.1038/nrcardio.2014.98. Epub 2014 Jul 15.


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the most-prevalent noncommunicable disease and leading cause of death globally. Over 80% of deaths from CVD occur in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). To limit the socioeconomic impact of CVD, a comprehensive approach to health care is needed. Cardiac rehabilitation delivers a cost-effective and structured exercise, education, and risk reduction programme, which can reduce mortality by up to 25% in addition to improving a patient's functional capacity and lowering rehospitalization rates. Despite these benefits and recommendations in clinical practice guidelines, cardiac rehabilitation programmes are grossly under-used compared with revascularization or medical therapy for patients with CVD. Worldwide, only 38.8% of countries have cardiac rehabilitation programmes. Specifically, 68.0% of high-income and 23% of LMICs (8.3% for low-income and 28.2% for middle-income countries) offer cardiac rehabilitation programmes to patients with CVD. Cardiac rehabilitation density estimates range from one programme per 0.1 to 6.4 million inhabitants. Multilevel strategies to augment cardiac rehabilitation capacity and availability at national and international levels, such as supportive public health policies, systematic referral strategies, and alternative models of delivery are needed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Rehabilitation*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Morbidity
  • Program Development*
  • Rehabilitation Centers / statistics & numerical data*