New Study Shows Importance of Rehab After Cardiac Valve Surgery – Despite Underutilization


New Study Shows Importance of Rehab After Cardiac Valve Surgery – Despite Underutilization


A new study shows the that those who had cardiac rehabilitation after heart valve surgery have better outcomes, despite it being underutilized.

The study, released by senior author Dr. Justin Bachmann, examined more than 40,000 people insured by Medicare who had valve surgery in 2014. While only 43% of those people enrolled in the cardiac rehabilitation programs offered to them, those who received the care were less likely to be hospitalized or die during the year following their procedure.

Bachmann, who is the medical director of the cardiopulmonary rehabilitation program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and a member of AACVPR, said this is the first study of its kind of evaluate the effects of cardiac rehabilitation for those undergoing valve surgery at the national level.

“Every day, I see patients improve and get stronger under the care of our cardiac rehabilitation staff here at Vanderbilt University Medical Center,” he said. “The patients as well as the nurses, exercise physiologists and other cardiac rehabilitation professionals were the inspiration for this study.”

Bachmann’s study found that those who underwent rehab were 34% less likely to be hospitalized within one year of discharge after their surgery. Moreover, rehab patients had a 4% lower risk of dying within one year of their surgery.

Cardiac rehab examines several different factors of a person’s health after a cardiac event, including diet, exercise and smoking cessation. Bachmann said in their study, they saw significant ethnic and racial disparities between those who participated in cardiac rehab versus those who did not.

“Disadvantaged patients are those who need cardiac rehabilitation the most,” he said. “These disparities are major areas we need to address. We should strive to get this to as many communities as possible and make it as welcoming to as many populations as we can.”

In an accompanying editorial, Medical Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation at Mayo Clinic Dr. Randal Thomas praised the study.

“It’s a good example of carrying out important research to address the growing importance of cardiac rehab in cardiovascular care,” he said in an interview with AACVPR. “The gap in providing cardiac rehab is the largest quality gap in cardiology today. We need to do all we can to study and identify problems, and then find solutions in delivering care. This study is one to strengthen the case for cardiac rehabilitation.”