Results from EuroCaReD study should serve as a benchmark to improve guideline adherence and treatment quality of cardiac rehabilitation (CR) in Europe.
Methods and results
Data from 2.054 CR patients in 12 European countries were derived from 69 centres. 76% were male. Indication for CR differed between countries being predominantly ACS in Switzerland (79%), Portugal (62%) and Germany (61%), elective PCI in Greece (37%), Austria (36%) and Spain (32%), and CABG in Croatia and Russia (36%). A minority of patients presented with chronic heart failure (4%). At CR start, most patients already were under medication according to current guidelines for the treatment of CV risk factors. A wide range of CR programme designs was found (duration 3 to 24 weeks; total number of sessions 30 to 196). Patient programme adherence after admission was high (85%). With reservations that eCRF follow-up data exchange remained incomplete, patient CV risk profiles experienced only small improvements. CR success as defined by an increase of exercise capacity > 25 W was significantly higher in young patients and those who were employed. Results differed by countries. After CR only 9% of patients were admitted to a structured post-CR programme.
Clinical characteristics of CR patients, indications and programmes in Europe are different. Guideline adherence is poor. Thus, patient selection and CR programme designs should become more evidence-based. Routine eCRF documentation of CR results throughout European countries was not sufficient in its first application because of incomplete data exchange. Therefore better adherence of CR centres to minimal routine clinical standards is requested.