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Cardiac rehab found to be cost-effective

Thursday 30th May 2019
A new study from the British Heart Foundation has shown the increased benefits cardiac rehabilitation can offer patients.
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Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) is an intervention - typically offered to people diagnosed with either heart disease or angina - that involves education and advice on reducing the risk of a cardiovascular incident, physical activity, and stress management. There is a lot of positive evidence for its use, but a new study has also found it is cost-effective for the NHS.

Research from the British Heart Foundation (BHF), in collaboration with the National Institute for Health Research and carried out at the University of York, has shown the benefits of CR. In addition to being cost-effective, the study also showed that it can benefit patients after a significant heart event regardless of their socioeconomic status.

This evidence highlights the importance of investing in CR. Despite its proven effectiveness, its uptake is poor around the world. In some countries as little as ten per cent of people eligible for CR access it, while the maximum in other countries is 60 per cent. This is despite proof of its effectiveness at reducing the chance of complications following a cardiovascular event.

The BHF is working on making this intervention more accessible to the public. Some options include using technology such as smartphone apps to help deliver the education required, as well as rethinking where CR is delivered. Currently, the programmes can be brought to patients’ homes, but are also delivered in centres. These could potentially be moved to better locations.

Sally Hughes, head of health services engagement at the BHF, said: “Put simply, cardiac rehabilitation saves lives. But there is a worryingly low uptake. This evidence supports the need for investment and a new approach to how we reach out to encourage people to attend CR programmes, especially groups of people where uptake is low.

“While there are some services that are already beginning to think outside the box to make CR more attractive, we need to go the extra mile to think about how we can use new innovations to remove barriers.”

Written by Matthew Horton

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