Cardio-Oncology Rehabilitation for Cancer Survivors With High Cardiovascular Risk: A Randomized Clinical Trial

JAMA Cardiol. 2023 Dec 1;8(12):1119-1128. doi: 10.1001/jamacardio.2023.3558.


Importance: Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of morbidity in cancer survivors, which makes strategies aimed at mitigating cardiovascular risk a subject of major contemporary importance.

Objective: To assess whether a center-based cardiac rehabilitation (CBCR) framework compared with usual care encompassing community-based exercise training (CBET) is superior for cardiorespiratory fitness improvement and cardiovascular risk factor control among cancer survivors with high cardiovascular risk.

Design, setting, and participants: This prospective, single-center, randomized clinical trial (CORE trial) included adult cancer survivors who had exposure to cardiotoxic cancer treatment and/or previous cardiovascular disease. Enrollment took place from March 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022. End points were assessed at baseline and after the 8-week intervention.

Interventions: Participants were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to 8 weeks of CBCR or CBET. The combined aerobic and resistance exercise sessions were performed twice a week.

Main outcomes and measures: The powered primary efficacy measure was change in peak oxygen consumption (V̇o2) at 2 months. Secondary outcomes included handgrip maximal strength, functional performance, blood pressure (BP), body composition, body mass index (BMI; calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared), lipid profile, plasma biomarker levels, physical activity (PA) levels, psychological distress, quality of life (QOL), and health literacy.

Results: A total of 75 participants completed the study (mean [SD] age, 53.6 [12.3] years; 58 [77.3%] female), with 38 in the CBCR group and 37 in the CBET group. Participants in CBCR achieved a greater mean (SD) increase in peak V̇o2 than those in CBET (2.1 [2.8] mL/kg/min vs 0.8 [2.5] mL/kg/min), with a between-group mean difference of 1.3 mL/kg/min (95% CI, 0.1-2.6 mL/kg/min; P = .03). Compared with the CBET group, the CBCR group also attained a greater mean (SD) reduction in systolic BP (-12.3 [11.8] mm Hg vs -1.9 [12.9] mm Hg; P < .001), diastolic BP (-5.0 [5.7] mm Hg vs -0.5 [7.0] mm Hg; P = .003), and BMI (-1.2 [0.9] vs 0.2 [0.7]; P < .001) and greater mean (SD) improvements in PA levels (1035.2 [735.7] metabolic equivalents [METs]/min/wk vs 34.1 [424.4] METs/min/wk; P < .001), QOL (14.0 [10.0] points vs 0.4 [12.9] points; P < .001), and health literacy scores (2.7 [1.6] points vs 0.1 [1.4] points; P < .001). Exercise adherence was significantly higher in the CBCR group than in the CBET group (mean [SD] sessions completed, 90.3% [11.8%] vs 68.4% [22.1%]; P < .001).

Conclusion and relevance: The CORE trial showed that a cardio-oncology rehabilitation model among cancer survivors with high cardiovascular risk was associated with greater improvements in peak V̇o2 compared with usual care encompassing an exercise intervention in a community setting. The CBCR also showed superior results in exercise adherence, cardiovascular risk factor control, QOL, and health literacy.

Trial registration: Identifier: NCT05132998.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cancer Survivors*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases*
  • Female
  • Hand Strength
  • Heart Disease Risk Factors
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality Improvement
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors

Associated data