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Commentary

Vol. 20 No. 1 (2022)

Effectiveness of Home-Based Cardiac Rehabilitation and Its Importance During COVID-19

DOI
https://doi.org/10.26443/mjm.v20i1.857
Submitted
February 13, 2021
Published
2021-07-26

Abstract

Cardiac rehabilitation is a secondary prevention and disease-management opportunity for individuals living with cardiovascular disease. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused postponements and cancellations for many health services, including 41% of cardiac rehabilitation programs in Canada. Cardiac rehabilitation effectively reduces the risk of mortality, morbidity, and hospitalizations in cardiac clients. Without access, individuals face challenges to improve their health, which places them at risk of adverse outcomes. This paper argues that transitioning to home-based cardiac rehabilitation programs during the pandemic is a reasonable strategy to meet the ongoing rehabilitation needs of cardiac patients. Home-based cardiac rehabilitation programs utilize limited hospital or clinic visits because the majority of exercise is performed at home through regular communication with a case manager. Programs utilize a variety of resources, including technology, to regularly monitor, educate, and counsel clients. The programs’ flexibility and convenience overcome many multi-level barriers which normally impede participants from accessing services. These programs have proven to be equally effective, if not more effective than centre-based programs, at improving mortality, cardiac events, exercise capacity and modifiable risk factors. Home-based programs are a valid alternative to support and protect a vulnerable population, especially those at high risk if diagnosed with COVID-19. Transitioning to a home-based platform may be a challenge, but the Canadian Cardiovascular Society has provided practical approaches to support programs. Adapting current plans and developing new ones, utilizing appropriate resources, having a conservative exercise program, monitoring clients, emphasizing education, being flexible, and enhancing safety are key steps for a successful transition.

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