-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Feb. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Heart disease patients are
far more likely to undergo cardiac rehabilitation if they are given
an automatic referral after discussing the matter with their
doctor, a new study finds.
Evidence shows that cardiac rehabilitation reduces illness and
death by about 25 percent over one to two years. However, 70
percent to 80 percent of eligible heart disease patients in Canada,
the United States and United Kingdom do not receive cardiac
rehabilitation after hospital discharge, according to background
information in the study.
Researchers surveyed more than 2,600 patients with coronary
artery disease who were treated at 11 Canadian hospitals that used
one of four referral strategies for cardiac rehabilitation: an
automatic referral using electronic patient records or standard
discharge orders; liaison referral, in which the referral occurs
after a discussion with a doctor; a combination of both automatic
and liaison strategies; or usual referral, in which certain
patients are referred at the discretion of a doctor.
Patients who were automatically referred after talking with
their doctors were the most likely to enroll in rehab, according to
More than 70 percent of patients who received the combined
automatic/liaison referral enrolled in rehabilitation compared to
60 percent with automatic referral alone, nearly 51 percent with
liaison alone and 29 percent when referral was left up to the
The combined automatic/liaison method may be most effective
because it relies on both the automatic referral and because
patients and doctors are involved. The discussion allows patients
to get their questions answered and may make them more willing to
try cardiac rehabilitation, according to study author Sherry Grace
of York University in Toronto and her colleagues.
"Implementation [of the combined strategy] could potentially raise cardiac rehabilitation use 45 percent, suggesting that major public health gains could be achieved in the population being treated for cardiac disease," the authors concluded.
The study is published in the Feb. 14 issue of the
Archives of Internal Medicine.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more
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