ATLANTA – A team of Mayo Clinic researchers have found that cardiac rehabilitation is associated with significantly reduced mortality rates for patients who have had stents placed to treat blockages in their coronary arteries. The findings, presented today at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology in Atlanta, found that patients who had coronary angioplasty (stent placement, also known as percutaneous coronary intervention) and afterwards participated in a cardiac rehabilitation program had a 45 to 47 percent decrease in mortality compared to those who did not participate in a cardiac rehabilitation program.
“Patients need to know that once they’ve had a coronary artery stent placed, they are not cured,” says Randal Thomas, M.D., a preventive cardiologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “Participation in a cardiac rehabilitation program will improve their health outcomes and quality of life.”
The study is one of very few that has looked at mortality rates after coronary angioplasty. “No other studies have been able to include the clinical details we have included,” says Dr. Thomas. The research team examined the records from a special database of 2,351 Mayo Clinic patients who underwent coronary angioplasty between 1994 and 2008. The overall participation rate in cardiac rehabilitation was 40 percent. Individual patients were followed for an average of six years.
In cardiac rehabilitation programs, patients exercise rigorously and get help in controlling risk factors. This leads to health benefits that are evident within the first year, and grow even larger over the long term, Dr. Thomas says.
Although cardiac rehabilitation programs are beneficial, Dr. Thomas says only 20 percent of all eligible cardiac patients nationally and 60 percent of Mayo patients participate. Several factors produce barriers to participation.
“Cardiac rehabilitation wasn’t covered by insurance for patients undergoing angioplasty therapy until 2006,” Dr. Thomas says. “Many patients and providers don’t know that it’s covered now. Also, some patients live far away from a cardiac rehabilitation facility. But what’s most troubling is that physicians often fail to emphasize the need for cardiac rehabilitation with their patients.”
“Cardiac rehabilitation is like a life raft to carry them (heart procedure patients) through the turbulent white water of cardiac trouble,” Dr. Thomas says. “It’s very important that they participate in such a program.”
The study was funded by the Mayo Clinic Division of Cardiology. Co-authors include Kashish Goel, M.B.B.S.; Ryan Lennon; R. Thomas Tilbury, M.D.; and Ray Squires, Ph.D., all of Mayo Clinic.
About Mayo Clinic
For more than 100 years, millions of people from all walks of life have found answers at Mayo Clinic. These patients tell us they leave Mayo Clinic with peace of mind knowing they received care from the world’s leading experts. Mayo Clinic is the first and largest integrated, not-for-profit group practice in the world. At Mayo Clinic, a team of specialists is assembled to take the time to listen, understand and care for patients’ health issues and concerns. These teams draw from more than 3,700 physicians and scientists and 50,100 allied staff that work at Mayo Clinic’s campuses in Minnesota, Florida, and Arizona; and community-based providers in more than 70 locations in southern Minnesota., western Wisconsin and northeast Iowa. These locations treat more than half a million people each year. To best serve patients, Mayo Clinic works with many insurance companies, does not require a physician referral in most cases and is an in-network provider for millions of people. To obtain the latest news releases from Mayo Clinic, go to www.mayoclinic.org/news. For information about research and education visit www.mayo.edu. MayoClinic.com (www.mayoclinic.com) is available as a resource for your general health information.
VIDEO ALERT: Additional audio and video resources, including excerpts from an interview with Dr. Thomas describing the research, are available on the Mayo Clinic News Blog. These materials also are subject to embargo but may be accessed in advance by journalists for incorporation into stories. The password for this post is ACC2010.