The Effect of Cardiac Rehabilitation on Health-Related Quality of Life in Patients With Coronary Artery Disease: A Meta-analysis

Can J Cardiol. 2019 Mar;35(3):352-364. doi: 10.1016/j.cjca.2018.11.013. Epub 2018 Nov 24.


Background: The clinical effectiveness of cardiac rehabilitation (CR) on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) is an area that has not been consistently explored. The objective of this systematic review was to evaluate the effectiveness of providing any core component of CR on HRQOL domains.

Methods: We performed a meta-analysis and meta-regression of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on the core components of CR. RCTs included adult patients with diagnosed coronary artery disease via angiography, myocardial infarction, angina, or who had undergone coronary revascularization. The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, SCI-EXPANDED, Psych INFO, and Web of Science were searched from inception to April 27, 2017. Outcomes included overall, physical, emotional, and social HRQOL. Outcomes were reported as standardized mean change (SMC) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Effect size changes of 0.2, 0.5, and 0.8 SD units reflect a small, moderate, and large effect, respectively.

Results: Forty-nine reports of 41 RCTs with 11,747 patients were included. Summary effect sizes were: overall HRQOL SMC, 0.28 (95% CI, 0.05-0.50), physical HRQOL SMC, 0.47 (95% CI, 0.13-0.81), emotional HRQOL SMC, 0.37 (95% CI, -0.02 to 0.77), and social HRQOL SMC, 0.13 (95% CI, -0.06 to 0.32). Meta-regression revealed type of CR intervention and year of publication as positive statistically significant treatment effect modifiers.

Conclusions: Receiving CR was shown to improve HRQOL, with exercise-, nonexercise-, and psychological-based interventions playing a vital role. Although these improvements in HRQOL were modest they still reflect an incremental benefit compared with receiving usual care.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Rehabilitation* / methods
  • Cardiac Rehabilitation* / psychology
  • Coronary Artery Disease* / prevention & control
  • Coronary Artery Disease* / psychology
  • Coronary Artery Disease* / rehabilitation
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life*
  • Treatment Outcome