Maximizing the Potential of Cardiac Rehab

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In her latest Medscape article, Cate Collings, MD FACC, MS, DipABLM discusses the underutilization of traditional cardiac rehabilitation (TCR) and intensive cardiac rehabilitation (ICR) despite their potential to treat and reverse cardiovascular disease.

Both TCR and ICR involve physician-supervised, team-based, whole person approaches to post-coronary event care that includes physical activity group sessions and education about lifestyle behaviors like diet and stress management.

ICR offers additional sessions on nutrition guidance, cooking instruction, stress management, and social support. It is covered by Medicare and most commercial payers and completing a cardiac rehabilitation program can reduce the risk of rehospitalization or death by 25%-50%.

Low utilization rates of cardiovascular rehabilitation persist despite its health benefits and high reimbursement, primarily due to a low referral rate. Primary care physicians are often unaware of community programs or consider referral solely at the discretion of the patient’s cardiologist.

However, in the article, Dr. Collings shares examples of primary care physicians and physician groups establishing successful cardiac rehabilitation programs within their practices or health systems. The examples demonstrate the feasibility of creating financially sustainable ICR programs to help patients build healthy heart habits to avoid future cardiovascular events and improve other comorbid diseases.

Read the full article: Why Aren’t Clinicians Referring Patients to Cardiac Rehab?

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