Cardiac Rehabilitation Program: Why Do Patients Fail to Show Up

It can be a challenge to recover from a major cardiac event. It has a far-reaching impact on how you carry out everyday functions and hampers overall quality of life.

Key takeaways:
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    Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) is an effective program for individuals recovering from a heart attack, heart failure, or other heart problems.
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    A cardiac rehabilitation program is a multi-pronged process that includes education, exercise, and counseling.
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    Data suggests that CR reduces the risk of recurring cardiac episodes and further cardiac illness.
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    Most people who could benefit from CR don’t participate because of factors that include fear, lack of awareness, and feelings of being too old or weak.
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    CR is tailored to the specific needs of each patient. Cardiac rehabilitation can help regardless of gender, age, and strength level.

For those looking for guidance on getting back to full strength, cardiac rehabilitation may be worth considering.

What is cardiac rehabilitation?

Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) is an effective program for individuals recovering from a heart attack, heart failure, or other heart problems that require surgical intervention or comprehensive medical care.

It’s a rehabilitation program in which a trained medical professional guides you through a program that includes multiple components.


Learning about healthy living is essential to putting the body in a peak state to recover. It can eliminate any habits that may have originally contributed to the cardiac event. Because of factors such as upbringing and culture, many don’t realize how habits are hampering their recovery and health.

During cardiac rehab, licensed professionals share vital information related to healthy habits and help patients develop a plan to replace detrimental practices with healing ones. Proper nutrition can be a powerful tool in preventing heart disease and reducing re-occurrence.

This process will help give patients the edge in making nutritional choices that will foster more comprehensive recovery.

Physical activity

It’s important to know the difference between physical activity for healing as opposed to fitness. Some people risk pushing too hard, resulting in impaired or regressed recovery. Others may not be challenging enough to yield the strengthening that comes with exercise.

Cardiac rehabilitation gives patients a hands-on learning experience to yield better outcomes. Recovery may be the first time a lot of patients are required to undergo consistent physical activity and strengthening.

Cardiac rehab puts you under the guidance of a professional that understands your limitations and has the experience to help you surpass them.


Healing from a heart-related issue can also affect you on a mental level. Cardiac rehabilitation helps patients address this while equipping them with tools to relieve stress and improve their overall mental health.

At its core, cardiac rehabilitation allows individuals to address various aspects of their healing and recovery to make the process as efficient and quick as possible. It provides the most direct line between their current situation and comprehensive recovery.

Is cardiac rehabilitation effective

Investing to engage in cardiac rehabilitation may provide significant results and increase the odds of positive outcomes. A growing amount of research shows a strong correlation between a higher quality of life and cardiac rehabilitation. Have a look at some benefits below.

Strength gains in the heart and body: as mentioned before, a guided exercise program gives you the confidence to challenge yourself appropriately to maximize healing, rebuild muscle and restore endurance. This translates into stronger body function, including in the heart.

May increase longevity: healthy diet and physical activity have an amplified benefit for those who’ve experienced a significant cardiac event. Several studies state that cardiac rehabilitation may decrease the risk of death occurring within five years after a heart attack or bypass surgery by thirty-five percent.

Lowers likelihood and risk of hospital re-admission: according to more than sixty-three studies with over fourteen thousand participants, exercise-based cardiac rehab led to a significant drop in the risk of hospital admissions and even death.

Could relieve symptoms significantly: the components involved in cardiac rehab may ease symptoms like chest pain, chronic fatigue, and difficulty breathing.

Maximize quality of life: successful recovery allows patients to realize the potential for recovery while maximizing overall quality of life. Benefits of cardiac rehabilitation, such as the reduced risk of death, improved mood, better medication adherence, and health stress management, are all factors that can contribute to a better quality of life overall.

Why do patients fail to show up for cardiac rehabilitation?

Cardiac recovery is beneficial for individuals coming back from serious cardiac challenges. It’s a great option that helps men and women of all ages that have mild to severe heart challenges. Yet, despite its documented success, the American Heart Association states that only 1 in 4 CR-eligible Medicare patients take part.

Let’s look at some common reasons this occurs.

Women feel excluded

According to several studies, women are one of the most significant segments of patients that feel excluded from cardiac rehabilitation. The size of the pool gets larger with minority women.

This may be due in part to physicians being less likely to suggest cardiac rehab to anyone that is not a Caucasian, middle-aged male. In reality, women of all ages and ethnicities would benefit from cardiac rehab.

Feeling too old or weak

Older men and women may not feel they can meet the physical demands of cardiac rehab. However, a good cardiac rehab program is tailored to your specific situation. A cardiac rehab is a great option regardless of strength and fitness level.

Don’t see the point

Some patients fail to realize how beneficial cardiac recovery is regarding their healing and overall quality of life. In reality, cardiac rehab is tied to significant benefits such as decreased heart attack, improved mood, reduced risk of re-occurrence, better medication adherence, and fewer symptoms such as angina or chronic fatigue.

Fear due to lack of information

Many patients are fearful or intimidated by the idea of CR. As a whole, healthcare professionals need to do a better job at explaining the benefits of cardiac rehabilitation and enlightening patients on how accessible quality cardiac rehab is for most people.

In 2016, nearly 366,000 people that were eligible for Medicare CR failed to take advantage of it. CR is more available than ever before. Not only that, there are outpatient options that can fit nearly any lifestyle or schedule.

Patients who receive cardiac rehabilitation are significantly more likely to experience positive outcomes that improve their quality of life, based on the data. Recovery doesn't have to be done alone. Individuals can be more confident and assured in their recovery with the help of trained medical professionals and a great cardiac rehabilitation program.

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