Three heart associations launch new cardiac rehab measures

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The American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association have jointly released a new set of procedure measures aimed at enhancing patient enrollment in cardiac rehabilitation programs and setting standards of excellence.

Cardiac rehab is a coordinated program to assess each patient’s clinical condition and risk factors, providing education and support for living a healthier life and attempting to prevent repeated episodes of cardiac illness. Under the new guidelines, more patients are now eligible for cardiac rehabilitation/secondary prevention programs.

Studies have shown that cardiac rehabilitation programs, known as secondary prevention programs, can help improve the health and life expectancy of people with heart conditions, according to Randal Thomas, MD, director of the Cardiovascular Health Clinic at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

The programs can reduce the risk of death after cardiac illness by 20 to 25 percent. They also can boost physical strength and endurance by 20 to 50 percent.

One goal of the new performance measures, which are akin to report cards used to recommended clinical guidelines, is to make referral to cardiac rehab automatic. The document even provides sample referral forms and outlines as to the best approach of collecting and analyzing data on patient referral.

A second goal of the new performance measures is to ensure the safety and excellence of cardiac rehabilitation programs.

The new document was published in the Oct. 2 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and the September/October issue of the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention.