Cardiac rehab ─ more is better, but how much is enough?


York U researcher finds amount of cardiac rehab that can lower chances of dying or hospitalization for a heart event

TORONTO, Wednesday, November 8, 2017 – Researchers from York University’s Faculty of Health and University Health Network have found that heart patients who go to 36 sessions of cardiac rehabilitation require fewer stents, and patients who go to even 12 sessions may have lower chances of dying over the next few years.

heart and cardiac health

Heart disease is among the leading burdens of disease and disability around the world. Many people living with heart disease have repeat heart problems, requiring hospitalization and heart interventions. Cardiac rehab programs are recommended to lower the chance of death and re-hospitalization by 20 per cent. It is known that more cardiac rehab is better, but how much is enough?

In a new study, Professor Sherry Grace of York U’s Faculty of Health and Senior Scientist at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, set out to discover the minimum number of rehab sessions in which patients should take part, to lower their risk of death or hospitalization for a heart event or procedure.

Sherry Grace Professor, Faculty of Health - School of Kinesiology & Health Science

Sherry Grace
Professor, Faculty of Health - School of Kinesiology & Health Science

The research, published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings reviewed published studies where patients received different doses of cardiac rehab. They carefully collected information from 33 studies on how many sessions of cardiac rehab patients were prescribed, recorded the corresponding deaths or hospitalizations, and then pooled all the findings.

“Patients need to make sure they get referred to cardiac rehab, and then attend at least 12 sessions-- although attending 36 would bring even better benefits,” says Grace. “Patients often report barriers to attending, and we need to do all we can to help patients overcome them so they fully participate.”

Currently there is no international standard on the ‘dose’ of cardiac rehab required. In Ontario, programs generally offer two sessions per week over five months, or 40 sessions. In the United States they get 36.

Grace says patients would achieve the benefits if they fully take advantage of these cardiac rehab programs, though more study is needed to definitively set a minimum number of sessions. “Cardiac rehab programs need enough resources in terms of space and staff to offer at least 36 sessions for patients."

York University is known for championing new ways of thinking that drive teaching and research excellence. Our students receive the education they need to create big ideas that make an impact on the world. Meaningful and sometimes unexpected careers result from cross-discipline programming, innovative course design and diverse experiential learning opportunities. York students and graduates push limits, achieve goals and find solutions to the world’s most pressing social challenges, empowered by a strong community that opens minds. York U is an internationally recognized research university –our 11 faculties and 26 research centres have partnerships with 200+ leading universities worldwide. Located in Toronto, York is the third largest university in Canada, with a strong community of 53,000 students, 7,000 faculty and administrative staff, and more than 295,000 alumni. York U's fully bilingual Glendon campus is home to Southern Ontario's Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education.

University Health Network One of North America’s leading rehabilitation sciences centres, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute is revolutionizing rehabilitation by helping people overcome the challenges of disabling injury, illness or age related health conditions to live active, healthier, more independent lives. It integrates innovative patient care, groundbreaking research and diverse education to build healthier communities and advance the role of rehabilitation in the health system.  Toronto Rehab, along with Toronto Western, Toronto General and the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, is a member of the University Health Network and is affiliated with the University of Toronto.

Media Contacts: Anjum Nayyar, York University Media Relations, 416 736 2100 ext. 44543

Ellen Rosenberg, Toronto Rehab Public Affairs Advisor, 416 597 3422 ext. 3524