Cardiovascular Rehabilitation With a WCD-Data From the CR3 Study (Cardiac Rehab Retrospective Review)

J Cardiopulm Rehabil Prev. 2024 Mar 1;44(2):115-120. doi: 10.1097/HCR.0000000000000832. Epub 2023 Nov 30.


Purpose: Patients at risk for sudden cardiac death may temporarily need a wearable cardioverter-defibrillator (WCD). Exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation (CR) has a class I recommendation in patients with cardiac disease. The aim of this study was to evaluate the safety and feasibility of undergoing CR with a WCD.

Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of all patients with a WCD who completed a CR in Austria (2010-2020).

Results: Patients (n = 55, 60 ± 11 yr, 16% female) with a median baseline left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) of 36 (30, 41)% at the start of CR showed a daily WCD wearing duration of 23.4 (22, 24) hr. There were 2848 (8 [1, 26]/patient) automatic alarms and 340 (3 [1, 7]/patient) manual alarms generated. No shocks were delivered by the WCD during the CR period. One patient had recurrent hemodynamically tolerated ventricular tachycardias that were controlled with antiarrhythmic drugs.No severe WCD-associated adverse events occurred during the CR stay of a median 28 (28, 28) d. The fabric garment and the device setting needed to be adjusted in two patients to diminish inappropriate automatic alarms. Left ventricular ejection fraction after CR increased significantly to 42 (30, 44)% ( P < .001). Wearable cardioverter-defibrillator therapy was stopped due to LVEF restitution in 53% of patients. In 36% of patients an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator was implanted, 6% had LVEF improvement after coronary revascularization, one patient received a heart transplantation (2%), two patients discontinued WCD treatment at their own request (4%).

Conclusion: Completing CR is feasible and safe for WCD patients and may contribute positively to the restitution of cardiac function.

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Rehabilitation*
  • Defibrillators, Implantable*
  • Electric Countershock
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stroke Volume
  • Ventricular Function, Left