Current challenges in cardiac rehabilitation: strategies to overcome social factors and attendance barriers

Expert Rev Cardiovasc Ther. 2020 Nov;18(11):777-789. doi: 10.1080/14779072.2020.1816464. Epub 2020 Sep 14.


Introduction: Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) significantly reduces secondary cardiovascular events and mortality and is a class 1A recommendation by the American Heart Association (AHA) and American College of Cardiology (ACC). However, it remains an underutilized intervention and many eligible patients fail to enroll or complete CR programs. The aim of this review is to identify barriers to CR attendance and discuss strategies to overcome them.

Areas covered: Specific barriers to CR attendance and participation will be reviewed. This will be followed by a discussion of solutions/strategies to help overcome these barriers with a particular focus on home-based CR (HBCR).

Expert opinion: HBCR alone or in combination with center-based CR (CBCR) can help overcome many barriers to traditional CBCR participation, such as schedule flexibility, time commitment, travel distance, cost, and patient preference. Using remote coaching with indirect exercise supervision, HBCR has been shown to have comparable benefits to CBCR. At this time, however, funding remains the main barrier to universal incorporation of HBCR into health systems, necessitating the need for additional cost benefit analysis and outcome studies. Ultimately, the choice for HBCR should be based on patient preference and availability of resources.

Keywords: Barriers; cardiac rehabilitation; home-based cardiac rehabilitation; strategies; tele-rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • American Heart Association
  • Cardiac Rehabilitation*
  • Cardiology
  • Humans
  • Social Factors*
  • United States