CDC: Nearly two-thirds of heart attack patients skip recommended rehab

While guidelines recommend heart attack patients undergo outpatient cardiac rehabilitation to prevent future heart attacks, a majority don't participate in rehab, according to the CDC's most recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

To better understand the historic underutilization of cardiac rehab, CDC researchers analyzed 2013 survey results from heart attack patients across 20 states and Washington, D.C., along with 2015 survey results from four additional states. In 2013, just 33.7 percent of heart attack patents surveyed participated in outpatient cardiac rehab. For 2013, the participation rate was marginally higher at 35.5 percent.

"Health system interventions to promote cardiac rehab referral and use, supported by access to affordable rehab programs within the community, should be prioritized to improve outcomes and prevent recurrent events," concluded the researchers. "Given that overall cardiac rehab use was low, improvement in referral is needed; however, populations with lower use of cardiac rehab, such as women, those with lower levels of education and minority populations should be further assessed to determine barriers to the use of cardiac rehab."

Every year, about 790,000 adults have a heart attack. About 210,000 of these heart attacks are recurrent.

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