Cardiac rehabilitation saves lives

    New study demonstrates benefits of adopting and maintaining
    heart-healthy lifestyle

    TORONTO, Feb. 25 /CNW/ - People who participate in cardiac rehabilitation
after experiencing a major heart event cut the risk of dying from a subsequent
heart event in half, according to a new study published in the February issue
of the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation.
    The study, conducted by Dr. David Alter, Institute for Clinical
Evaluative Studies (ICES), and Dr. Paul Oh, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute
(Toronto Rehab), compared the long-term survival rate of more than 4,000
people who had been hospitalized due to a heart event, such as a heart attack.
Half of the study cohort completed a one-year cardiac rehabilitation program
while the other half did not. The participants who got cardiac rehabilitation
received information and coaching about the changes they needed to make to
live heart-healthier lifestyles. Consequently, they experienced a decreased
mortality rate.
    "The study highlights the importance of behaviour patterns in the
population," says Dr. Alter, Senior Scientist, ICES, and Adjunct Scientist,
Toronto Rehab. "The survival benefits predominantly applied to those
individuals who both participated in and complied with the cardiac
rehabilitation program. In contrast, those who did not attend cardiac
rehabilitation classes did not experience significant survival improvements.
This demonstrates the significance of cardiac rehabilitation following a heart
    According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, 73 per cent of the 70,000
Canadians who have heart attacks annually survive the event. Close to half of
these people continue to experience heart-related problems, including chest
pain, a restricted lifestyle and a high risk of having an additional heart
attack. More than 2 million other Canadians are living with cardiovascular
    Despite the proven benefits of cardiac rehabilitation, studies show that
only 30 per cent of people who would benefit from taking part in a cardiac
rehabilitation program actually enroll in one. Dr. Oh, Medical Director of
Toronto Rehab's Cardiac Rehabilitation and Secondary Prevention program, hopes
this new study will underscore the importance of rehabilitation after a
serious heart event.
    "We know that cardiac rehabilitation saves lives," says Dr. Oh. "Our
program teaches people the importance of eating a proper diet, exercising
regularly, getting enough sleep and having healthy relationships. If you, or
someone you know, has experienced a heart event or has multiple risk factors,
such as diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, speak to your
doctor about a referral to a cardiac rehabilitation program."
    Michael Irving, 59, knows first-hand the benefits of completing a cardiac
rehabilitation program. According to Irving, "Toronto Rehab's cardiac rehab
program saved my life and improved the quality of life for those around me."
    Irving experienced a major heart attack in summer 2007. He survived,
however, the overweight and overstressed sculptor and psychotherapist knew he
was destined to continue experiencing heart problems if he didn't make major
lifestyle changes. Therefore, he asked his physician to refer him to the
Cardiac Rehabilitation and Secondary Prevention program at Toronto Rehab - the
largest and longest-running cardiac rehabilitation outpatient program in North
    Two years later, Irving has lost more than 80lbs and is continuing to
practice the heart-healthy lifestyle changes he learned in the program.
    "If my heart attack had occurred 30 years ago, I would have been told to
go home, get my affairs in order and expect not to see the end of the year,"
says Irving. "Cardiac rehabilitation practices have effectively turned these
notions around 180-degrees by identifying lifestyle approaches that lead to a
productive and vibrant heart-healthy life."

    About the study

    The study "Relationship between cardiac rehabilitation and survival after
acute cardiac hospitalization within a universal health care system" followed
4,084 people who had been hospitalized between 1999 and 2003 from cardiac
events. Each patient survived at least one year without recurrent admissions
after discharge from the original admission, and was followed for a mean of
5.25 years. Cardiac rehabilitation participants experience a 50 per cent lower
mortality rate compared with the population-matched participants who did not
undergo a rehabilitation program (2.6 vs. 5.1 per cent respectively, P(less

    About cardiac rehabilitation

    Toronto Rehab's Cardiac Rehabilitation and Secondary Prevention program
is based on a scientifically-proven and medically-supervised course of
exercise, education and lifestyle modification aimed at providing patients
with the information, motivation and support they need to adopt and maintain
heart-healthy habits. The ultimate goals of the program are to limit the
physiological effects of cardiac illness and to improve overall cardiovascular
fitness and health.

    About ICES

    ICES is an independent, non-profit organization that uses
population-based health information to produce knowledge on a broad range of
health care issues. Our unbiased evidence provides measures of health system
performance, a clearer understanding of the shifting health care needs of
Ontarians, and a stimulus for discussion of practical solutions to optimize
scarce resources. ICES knowledge is highly regarded in Canada and abroad, and
is widely used by government, hospitals, planners, and practitioners to make
decisions about care delivery and to develop policy.

    About Toronto Rehab

    Toronto Rehab is at the forefront of one of the most important and
emerging frontiers in health care today - rehabilitation science. As a fully
affiliated teaching and research hospital of the University of Toronto,
Toronto Rehab is Canada's largest academic provider of adult rehabilitation
services, complex continuing care and long-term care. Toronto Rehab is
advancing rehabilitation knowledge and practice through research and

For further information:

For further information: Angela Baker, Media Relations Specialist,
Toronto Rehab, (416) 597-3422, ext. 3837,;
Deborah Creatura, Media Advisor, Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences
(ICES), (416) 480-4780,

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