Overall, the study found that, despite Medicare coverage of cardiac rehabilitation sessions, among Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 and above, women participated less than men, older people less than younger, and non-whites significantly less than whites. Additionally, the researchers noted striking geographic differences in the use of cardiac rehabilitation after cardiac hospitalizations, ranging from 53.5 percent of patients in Nebraska to 6.6 percent in Idaho.

“Almost all patients with stable angina or a recent heart attack, bypass surgery, or a coronary stent could benefit from cardiac rehabilitation,” Jose A. Suaya, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study, from the Schneider Institutes for Health Policy, Heller School, at Brandeis University said. “Importantly, this benefit applies regardless of age, gender or race.”

The researchers evaluated Medicare claims data on 267,427 men and women aged 65 and above who survived at least 30 days after hospital discharge following a heart attack or coronary bypass surgery. In the year following hospital discharge, fewer than one in five (18.7 percent) patients in the study had at least one session of cardiac rehabilitation. Bypass patients (31.0 percent) were far more likely to receive rehabilitation than patients who had had a heart attack (13.9 percent). The use of cardiac rehabilitation differed by age and gender.

“I think differences in the use of cardiac rehabilitation for different age groups reflects physicians’ preconceptions about less value in older people rather than a careful look at the clinical evidence. There is an increasing body of research showing that increased exercise is just as valuable, if not more so, in older people, and is important in preserving their ability to function,” William B. Stason, M.D., M.Sci., study co-author and senior scientist at the Heller School said.

MEDICA.de; Source: Brandeis University