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Breaking Down the Barriers To Cardiac Rehabilitation in Women

by User Not Found | May 31, 2012
Access to care cited as a prohibiting factor for women referred to cardiac rehabilitation


Access to care cited as a prohibiting factor for women referred to cardiac rehabilitation

SAN FRANCISCO – What keeps women with heart problems from making their first appointment when referred for cardiac rehabilitation? According to a study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine’s 59th Annual Meeting in San Francisco, improved participation in cardiac rehabilitation by women can be affected through a careful evaluation of factors that influence access to care.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women. Proper rehabilitation of the heart is crucial to overall health and well-being for individuals suffering from heart problems. Exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation is proven to be advantageous, however extremely underutilized, especially by women.


Cardiac rehabilitation begins with an intake assessment at which patients are evaluated and counseled on exercise and nutrition regimens, and are provided emotional support and education on needed lifestyle changes. Aimed at reducing the risk of heart problems, every step is imperative to a complete recovery and reducing risk for future issues. Despite its benefit, many women are not attending the intake assessment, or first appointment. 

“Once they are referred to a cardiac rehabilitation, women are less likely to attend their intake assessment compared to their male counterparts,” said Mireille Landry, a registered physical therapist at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto and co-investigator of the study. “Little attention has been paid to the barriers that may negatively influence a woman to complete her intake assessment.”


For the study, women who had been referred to cardiac rehabilitation but did not complete an intake assessment completed a telephone survey. Researchers then compared the data with women who had completed an intake assessment. Of the 671 referrals received from 2008-2010, 169 did not attend the assessment and 53 agreed to participate in the study. The presence of arthritis, cholesterol problems and smoking history were significant in attendees to intake assessment vs. non-attenders. Family and work responsibilities, fatigue, and anxiety were frequently cited for not attending the intake assessement.

Another notable result of the study was distance and transportation issues. Of the respondents, 26% listed these barriers as a specific challenge for beginning cardiac rehabilitation.


This study’s results indicate that improved participation in cardiac rehabilitation by women can be effected through a careful evaluation of factors that influence access to care, including addressing transportation issues at the onset of referral.


The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 45,000 international, national and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.




The conclusions outlined in this news release are those of the researchers only, and should not be construed as an official statement of the American College of Sports Medicine.


The American College of Sports Medicine 59th Annual Meeting is going on now at the Moscone Center West. 


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