Dose of cardiac rehabilitation to reduce mortality and morbidity: A population-based study

Jose R. Medina-Inojosa, Sherry L. Grace, Marta Supervia, Gorazd Stokin, Amanda R. Bonikowske, Randal Thomas, Francisco Lopez-Jimenez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: There is wide variability in cardiac rehabilitation (CR) dose (ie, number of sessions) delivered, and no evidence-based recommendations regarding what dose to prescribe. We aimed to test what CR dose impacts major adverse cardiovascular events (MACEs). METHODS AND RESULTS: This is an historical cohort study of all patients who had coronary artery disease and who initiated su-pervised CR between 2002 and 2012 from a single major CR center. CR dose was defined as number of visits including exercise and patient education. Follow-up was performed using record linkage from the Rochester Epidemiology Project. MACEs included acute myocardial infarction, unstable angina, ventricular arrhythmias, stroke, revascularization, or all-cause mortality. Dose was analyzed in several ways, including tertiles, categories, and as a continuous variable. Cox models were adjusted for factors associated with dose and MACE. The cohort consisted of 2345 patients, who attended a mean of 12.5±11.1 of 36 prescribed sessions. After a mean follow-up of 6 years, 695 (29.65%) patients had a MACE, including 231 who died. CR dose was inversely associated with MACE (hazard ratio, 0.66 [95% CI]; 0.55– 0.91) in those completing ≥20 sessions, when compared with those not exposed to formal exercise sessions (≤1 session; log-rank P=0.007). We did not find evidence of nonlinearity (P≥0.050), suggesting no minimal threshold nor ceiling. Each additional session was associated with a lower rate of MACE (fully adjusted hazard ratio, 0.98 [95% CI, 0.97– 0.99]). Greater session frequency was also associated with lower MACE risk (fully adjusted hazard ratio, 0.74 [95% CI, 0.58– 0.94]). CONCLUSIONS: CR reduces MACEs, but the benefit appears to be linear, with greater risk reduction with higher doses, and no upper threshold.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere021356
JournalJournal of the American Heart Association
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 19 2021


  • Cardiac rehabilitation
  • Major adverse cardiovascular events
  • Mortality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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