Promoting regular physical activity (PA) and improving exercise capacity are the primary goals of cardiac rehabilitation (CR). Mobile technologies (mTechs) like smartphones, smartwatches, and fitness trackers might help patients in reaching these goals. This review aimed to scope current scientific literature on mTechs in CR to assess the impact on patients' exercise capacity and to identify gaps and future directions for research. PubMed, CENTRAL, and CDSR were systematically searched for randomized controlled trials (RCTs). These RCTs had to utilize mTechs to objectively monitor and promote PA of patients during or following CR, aim at improvements in exercise capacity, and be published between December 2014 and December 2019. A total of 964 publications were identified, and 13 studies met all inclusion criteria. Home-based CR with mTechs vs. outpatient CR without mTechs and outpatient CR with mTechs vs. outpatient CR without mTechs did not lead to statistically significant differences in exercise capacity. In contrast, outpatient CR followed by home-based CR with mTechs led to significant improvement in exercise capacity as compared to outpatient CR without further formal CR. Supplying patients with mTechs may improve exercise capacity. To ensure that usage of and compliance with mTechs is optimal, a concentrated effort of CR staff has to be achieved. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented lack of patient support while away from institutional CR. Even though mTechs lend themselves as suitable assistants, evidence is lacking that they can fill this gap.
Keywords: cardiovascular diseases; exercise; smartphone; telemedicine; telerehabilitation; therapeutics.