Participating in a Heart Recovery Program is Better than Going It Alone

Craig Stoltz Health Guide
  • Here's another report that confirms intuition but serves as a useful reminder: People recovering from serious heart events and participate in a three-year follow-up program stick with heart-healthy behaviors over the long term. This may (emphasis may) reduce risk of death.


    This is based on Mayo Clinic Research on heart-related disease management published in the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention.


    Three things you need to know:


    1. The program involved face-to-face follow-up with non-physician cardio rehab specialists every three to six months for three years. During visits, compliance with things like taking aspirin and statins, getting exercise and not smoking were assessed and monitored.

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    2. About 90 percent of patients in the program stuck with the most important heart disease risk-control behaviors. This is a lot higher than it is for most heart patients, but this study didn't do a direct comparision to a control group. About 2 percent of patients died over three years, compared to about 1.6 percent other data shows for this age group population-wide. The usual death rate for similar people who have had similar heart events is about 6 percent per year. Again, this data isn't precise and dependable due to the nature of the study, but it's worth knowing.


    3. The risk factor hardest to control? [One beat for you to guess. . .] Weight. Even with this regular close contact, patients had the hardest time controlling their weight. In this group, excess weight is an independent risk factor for heart disease.


    So: Get into a program and stick with it. If your hospital, rehab center or insurer offers long-term disease management programs, sign up and stick with 'em.


    And--stop us if you've heard this before--if you're recovering from a heart attack or are  out of the usual short-term cardio heart rehab program, join the community here at


    We have medical and patient experts, veteran patients like you and information sources that will help you stick with heart-healthy living. Whether you participate in a formal disease management program or not.

Published On: June 05, 2008