Half of UK heart attack survivors don’t get rehab, audit finds

A national audit of cardiac rehabilitation shows that about 68,000 people who had heart attacks missed out on cardiac rehabilitation in 2015/16, nearly half (49 per cent) of those who were eligible. 


Nearly half of eligible heart attack and angioplasty patients wait longer than 28 days to start a rehab

People from more deprived areas were less likely to take part in rehabilitation than those from more affluent ones, the research found.

The audit reveals a disparity in uptake among men and women, with 52 per cent of eligible men taking part in a rehab programme compared to just 44 per cent of their female counterparts.

Even for heart attack survivors who are referred, there is often a delay, with 49 per cent of those who are eligible, after having heart attacks or angioplasty surgery, having to wait longer than the recommended 28 days to start rehabilitation programmes.

The British Association for Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation recommends a fitness assessment to classify patients’ risk and inform exercise prescription. But fewer than a third of patients have their functional capacity measured before rehabilitation, the findings show.

The British Heart Foundation audit recommends that a much bigger proportion of people with heart failure should be referred for cardiac rehabilitation and supported to take up the offer.

All patients who complete cardiac rehabilitation should be assessed, it says. The rehab should meet the minimum requirement of eight weeks and programmes should have their service accredited as part of the National Certification Programme for Cardiac Rehabilitation.

Catrin Warren is co-chair of the CSP Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Cardiac Rehabilitation professional network. She said: ‘Physiotherapists remain the second largest group of professionals working in this field – after nurses.

‘We have the experience and skills to manage a wide range of clinical conditions, enabling effective and safe management of people with cardiac conditions who increasingly present with multiple and complex co-pathology.

‘The challenge in the future is for physiotherapists to offer a wider range of options, for example web and app-based programmes to increase access.’


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