Our Working Group on Out-Patient Cardiac Rehabilitation (AGAKAR) has previously published guidelines, which were endorsed by the Austrian Society of Cardiology. It was the aim of this study to assess the short-term (phase II) and long-term (phase III) effects of these guidelines by use of a nationwide registry.
All Austrian out-patient rehabilitation facilities entered data into a database of all consecutive patients who completed phase II (4–6 weeks) and/or III (6–12 months) rehabilitation between 1.1.2009–30.11.2011.
Data of 1432 phase II and 1390 phase III patients were assessed. Despite the wide spectrum of cardiac diseases patients’ exercise capacity improved during phase II by 20 (− 193 to 240) watts; 91.0 % reached a systolic blood pressure < 140 mmHg; 68.1 % an LDL < 100 mg/dl; 69.8 % triglycerides < 150 mg/dl, and 66.2 % of male patients had a waist circumference < 102 cm. During phase III improvement in cardiovascular risk factors, quality of life, anxiety, and depression were further improved in an increasing number of patients.
Our data demonstrate beneficial short- and long-term effects of the Austrian model of out-patient cardiac rehabilitation and provide support for comprehensive long-term rehabilitation programs. Furthermore, our model might be helpful for those who are at the verge of initiating or modifying their programs. It is also hoped that these data will motivate colleagues to refer their patients to out-patient cardiac rehabilitation facilities and that our results may stimulate insurance companies to grant further and comprehensive contracts to provide access for all suitable patients.