Cardiac Rehabilitation: Under-Utilized Globally

Curr Cardiol Rep. 2021 Jul 16;23(9):118. doi: 10.1007/s11886-021-01543-x.


Purpose of review: Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) is grossly under-utilized. This review summarizes current knowledge about degree of CR utilization, reasons for under-utilization, and strategies to increase use.

Recent findings: ICCPR's global CR audit quantified for the first time the number of additional CR spots needed per year to treat indicated patients, so there are programs they may use. The first randomized trial of automatic/systematic CR referral has shown it results in significantly greater patient completion. Moreover, the recent update of the Cochrane review on interventions to increase use has provided unequivocal evidence on the significant impact of clinician CR encouragement at the bedside; a course is now available to train clinicians. The USA is leading the way in implementing automatic referral with inpatient-clinician CR discussions. Suggestions to triage patients based on risk to less resource-intensive, unsupervised program models could simultaneously expand capacity and support patient adherence.

Keywords: Access to health care; Cardiac rehabilitation; Cardiovascular diseases; Health care utilization; Referral; Secondary disease prevention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Inpatients
  • Patient Compliance
  • Referral and Consultation