Health services urged to resume in-person rehab for heart patients

The Heart Foundation is urging health services to resume face-to-face cardiac rehabilitation programs following a new survey revealing that 73% of heart attack survivors who attend programs in person are more likely to complete the full program.

The findings from the new Heart Foundation survey are being released to encourage health services to prioritise the return of group cardiac rehabilitation services that have been suspended or replaced with telehealth models due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Many Australians have benefited from the expansion of telehealth funding and new models of care during the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s important that these continue given the possibility of future lockdowns, like the one we are currently seeing in WA,” says Bill Stavreski, General Manager of Heart Health.

“However, as restrictions have eased, face-to-face cardiac rehabilitation programs can be resumes, and telehealth should become just one of several options that can be tailored for the specific patient.

“For example, some patients require additional supervision and support during their exercise sessions, and they find that participating in person, in a group environment, is more preferable than via telehealth.”

Mr Stavreski adds that because cardiac rehabilitation “looks different for everyone”, “alternate models of care that are flexible and patient-centric” are needed.

“For some, telehealth programs will be desirable, but we often hear from patients that getting out of the house to exercise and learn about heart health with people in a similar predicament is life changing,” he says.

The survey also found that six in 10 people who suffered a heart attack in the past five years were referred to a cardiac rehabilitation program and according to Mr Stavreski, referring these patients to these programs is “the best way to prevent another heart attack, stay out of hospital and get back to good quality of life”.

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