Cardiac rehab: Lifesaver & money-saver?

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 - Life preserve

Implementing a comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation (CR) program may ultimately cut costs by reducing the number of hospital readmissions and lowering mortality from cardiovascular disease, according to study results presented Oct. 17 at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress in Montreal.

Dennis Humen, MD, of Western University in London, Ontario, and his colleagues analyzed the outcomes of 47 trials involving more 10,700 patients who participated in CR. They estimated how much CR would cost for the 3,500 patients who experience a cardiac event in southwestern Ontario every year and projected their figures over a two-year follow-up period.

Their analysis of previous literature found that CR was associated with a 26 percent decline in hospital readmissions and a 31 percent decrease in cardiovascular mortality. After a number of cost calculations that took average admission costs and control event rates and the number of patients who would die into account, they estimated that enrolling patients into CR and following them for two years would cost about $5.2 million [$5.4 million Canadian dollars]. CR, therefore, would save $378,013 [$389,729 Canadian dollars].

The findings, Humen said in a press release, suggest that comprehensive CR is a sound clinical and financial decision.

"We found that cardiac rehabilitation programs have a financial 'return on investment' of about 7 percent,” he said.  "Not only is cardiac rehab the pillar of preventing a second cardiac event; it also makes good business sense."