Why cardiovascular rehabilitation programs are not working as well for women

    • Heart diseases are the main cause of death among women across the United States.
    • Rehabilitation programs for cardiologists may lower the risk of death and the need for hospitalization.
    • Experts believe that women aren’t represented in these programs and, therefore, do not benefit from the advantages of health.
    • Family obligations programs, costs, and access are just some factors hindering women from taking part.
  • Women have not reaped the benefits of cardio rehabilitation programs at the same pace as men.
  • That’s the conclusion of the study released on the 21st of April in The Canadian Journal of Cardiology, which reveals that women face numerous obstacles in attending programs that could significantly lower the risk of dying and rehospitalization.
  • “The advantages of cardiac rehabilitation participation are astounding, and patients recover their energy and can resume fulfilling life roles. Women face numerous structural obstacles to participating in the first place – from the individual to the health system level. We designed the Cardiac Rehab Barriers Scale ( CRBS) nearly twenty years ago in order to help better define these barriers and is the most commonly used and accurate measure to evaluate these barriers.” Sherry Grace, PhD, lead researcher in the study and director for Research of Cardiac Rehabilitation at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at York University in Toronto, stated in a statement to the press.

The basic concepts of cardio-rehabilitation programs

  • The cardiovascular rehabilitation program, also referred to as cardiac rehab, is designed to improve the health of the cardiovascular system of people who suffer from heart failure and heart attack surgery or angioplasty.
  • A doctor monitors the programs and include exercise, counseling for stress reduction, as well as information to encourage heart-healthy living.
  • Cardiovascular rehabilitation programs are believed for their ability to boost health. However, experts believe they aren’t being utilized by women.
  • “Cardiac rehabilitation has been found to be the most effective intervention once an individual has been diagnosed with symptomatic heart disease. In addition to medications and other procedures, it is the best option,” Dr. Shannon Hoos-Thompson who is an cardiologist at The University of Kansas Health System who was not part of the study, said Medical News Today.
  • “Heart rate blood pressure, heart rhythm and symptoms are monitored and the exercise regimen is adjusted according to a specific protocol for each patient’s specific levels after enrollment. The basic idea is that those with heart diseases patients are taught how to maintain their cardiovascular health and are taught the importance of taking time for their overall health.” She added.

Information from the study regarding cardio rehabilitation programs

  • The report is the very first to study the obstacles that women and men face when it comes to accessing rehabilitation programs.
  • In this study the study included 2,000 participants from 16 countries were surveyed in an internet-based survey. Participants were either patients who could receive cardiovascular rehabilitation or those who were starting their rehabilitation programs.
  • Six World Health Organization regions were represented by the six regions of the World Health Organization. This includes Africa and the Americas, South East Asia, Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean as well as the Western Pacific.
  • The study found that females and males face significant challenges to the use of cardiovascular rehabilitation. Female patients are more prone to the obstacle to overcome throughout the Americas than male patients. The most significant barriers for women are discovered in Asia, the Western Pacific, and South East Asia.
  • Researchers discovered they found that women not employed faced more obstacles than women who were employed.
  • The challenges for women who weren’t yet participating in a cardiovascular rehabilitation program consisted of not knowing that programs were available, not contacting women following the referral, and program costs and the feeling that exercise is difficult or exhausting.
  • The obstacles to sticking to a program designed for women who are already enrolled include parental responsibilities and travel, the distance from facilities, and transportation issues.
  • “Women’s cardiovascular diseases don’t always receive the attention it deserves. Women tend to think of themselves as first, as caregivers for their loved ones,” Dr. Helga Van Herle, who is a cardiologist at Keck Medicine of USC in California who wasn’t part of the study, said in Medical News Today.
  • “It’s just sort of the trend that we see in women’s heart health, that we really have to be strong for ourselves and look out for ourselves,” she explained. “And it is not the wrong thing to do to ask your physician about cardiac rehab, especially if you are in a category that will benefit.”

strategies to get over obstacles

  • In the course of the research, participants were given possible mitigation strategies to assist in overcoming barriers to attending. They included implementing home-based programs or having conversations with healthcare professionals.
  • Over 70% of the women have rated the information as either helpful or extremely helpful.
  • Van Herle said it is crucial that women speak with their health care provider regarding any issues they may encounter in completing or adhering to a rehabilitation program.
  • “It’s an exchange that both each patient as well as their doctor must engage in. If the pain is severe when exercising, or if the exercise is uncomfortable, there are adjustments that can be implemented, but you have to stay in touch with the program. They are usually led by exercise physiologists and they’re also physical therapy professionals and therefore there are ways to tackle these issues,” she said.
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Benefits of a cardio rehabilitation program

  • Typically, cardio rehabilitation programs are designed to last for three months; according to Trusted Source, however, they could last between two and eight months.
  • The people who take part in 36 sessions have a 47 percent lower chance of dying and a 31% lower chance of suffering a heart attack as compared to those who attend just one session.
  • The heart disease has been identified as the primary cause of death among females in the United States, but women are not referred to the heart rehabilitation programs. Black females are 60 percent more likely than white females to be recommended to or enrolled in a program.
  • Hoos Thompson says this is a case study of a larger issue in the treatment of women’s cardiovascular health.
  • “Heart disease” is an under-appreciated condition among women. We ignore women who are at risk, neglect women who have heart problems that are unstable, and fail to treat the ongoing issues that arise after heart-related events. This is an issue of social and cultural issue which is evident in the field of healthcare,” she explained.
  • Cardiovascular rehabilitation programs can cut down on deaths from any cause by 15% after one year of follow-up in addition to by 45 percent after 15 years after follow-up. They can also reduce mortality rates due to cardiovascular diseases by 30 percent.
  • Experts believe that a greater female participation in such programs could make a significant impact on the health of for women all over the world.
  • “Knowing that there are currently 60 million Trusted Source women live.”


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