Cardiac rehabilitation improves stroke recovery, reduces mortality

A recent study found that people who participated in a rehabilitation program were less likely to die and had improved overall functioning.

A recent study found that stroke patients recovered better and had a lower risk of death when cardiac rehabilitation was included as part of their treatment plan.

Researchers examine 449 acute stroke survivors studyPosted on May 1st Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease.

The authors reviewed patients from 2015 to 2020 and examined their health a year after their stroke.

Patients who participated in a stroke rehabilitation program fared significantly better than those who did not undergo similar rehabilitation.

“Stroke survivors enrolled in a comprehensive stroke rehabilitation program, including modified cardiac rehabilitation, reduced all-cause mortality, improved overall function, and improved cardiovascular function,” the lead authors wrote. Sarah J. Cucurulo, M.D., MD, of the Kennedy Johnson Rehabilitation Institute at Hackensack Meridian Health Center in Edison, NJ, and her co-authors.

The researchers noted that about 7 million Americans suffer a stroke, and 35 to 40 percent of them experience a reduction in essential activities within six months of a stroke.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 6 people who die from cardiovascular disease die from a stroke. Every 40 seconds an American suffers a stroke.

The researchers examined 246 people who had participated in a stroke rehabilitation program and 203 people who had not.

One year after the stroke, 4 people (1.6%) in the group enrolled in the stroke rehabilitation program died. In the smaller group not enrolled in a rehabilitation program, 14 people (6.9%) died.

To put that in perspective, the authors noted that participants in stroke rehabilitation had an estimated 76.5 percent reduction in mortality.

Patients in stroke rehabilitation programs are also generally healthier and less likely to require readmission.

Cuccurullo and her colleagues point out that the study’s findings suggest not only helping patients recover, but also reducing costs for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The CDC reported that between 2017 and 2018, stroke-related costs in the United States reached $53 billion.

Considering the improved health outcomes and potential savings in health care costs for participants in the stroke rehabilitation program, “this is beneficial for stroke survivors because the program is supported nationally at the federal level,” the researchers wrote. Like CR (Cardiac Rehabilitation) to support heart patients.”

“Our findings provide supportive evidence for the potential expansion of cardiac rehabilitation in line with diagnostic criteria to include stroke patients,” the authors wrote. “Future research in this area will build on evidence-based data to transform healthcare. policies to support stroke survivors in a similar way to heart patients.”

Cuccurullo and her co-authors say those who participate in rehabilitation see a doctor for outpatient treatment and some modified cardiac rehabilitation. “Non-participants” were referred to primary care physicians and attended physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy as needed.

The authors note that one limitation of the study is that it was an observational study. They also noted that the data came from a single facility, the Kennedy Johnson Institute for Rehabilitation, an acute inpatient rehabilitation facility.

However, the study included participants who reflected the national population in terms of gender, race, ethnicity and insurance status, the authors said. The researchers also noted that the study followed patients for more than a year and addressed functional improvements and cardiac function.

The stroke rehabilitation program “embodies the potential to represent a comprehensive model of post-acute care for stroke survivors,” Cuccurullo and her colleagues wrote. In addition to researchers at Hackensack Meridian Health, researchers involved in the study were from Rutgers University’s Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine and Burke Rehabilitation Hospital.

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