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NICE recommends early rehab in updated guidance on preventing secondary heart attacks

12 December 2013 - 1:16pm

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) says that patients who have had a heart attack should start rehabilitation programmes of exercise, education and psychological support before they leave hospital.


Read the updated NICE guidline using the link at the foot of this story

The updated guideline, titled Myocardial infarction: secondary prevention (CG172), provides advice on the best ways to improve the care of hundreds of thousands of adults in England and Wales who have survived a heart attack.

It recommends that patients should be invited to join a comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation programme within 10 days of discharge. Rehabilitation should take place in a choice of venues, including the patient’s home, it notes.

Additionally, the guideline highlights the importance of exploring individuals' health beliefs and illness perceptions, which may be significant barriers to attending rehabilitation programmes.

It also recommends that single-sex cardiac rehabilitation classes should be available, if there is sufficient demand.

Improving long-term outcomes

A Department of Health report on cardiovascular disease, published in March 2013, shows that only 44 per cent of people started outpatient cardiac rehabilitation programmes in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, following a heart attack.

The document says that patients wait an average of 53 days before starting an outpatient rehabilitation programme.

Professor Mark Baker, director of the centre for clinical practice at NICE, said: ‘This updated guideline takes on board the latest evidence on the best ways to prevent further heart attacks or strokes in people who have already suffered a heart attack.

‘Its aim is to ensure the growing number of people who now survive a heart attack are provided with the good quality, systematic care that is essential to improving long-term outcomes and quality of life.’

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