Bachmann JM, Duncan MS, Shah AS, Greevy RA, Lindenfeld J, Keteyian SJ, Thomas RJ, Whooley MA, Wang TJ, Freiberg MS. Association of Cardiac Rehabilitation With Decreased Hospitalizations and Mortality After Ventricular Assist Device Implantation. JACC. Heart failure. 2018 Feb 1; 6(2):130-139.
This study characterized cardiac rehabilitation (CR) use in ventricular assist device (VAD) recipients in the United States and the association of CR with 1-year hospitalization and mortality by using the 2013 to 2015 Medicare files.
Exercise-based CR is indicated in patients with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction, but no data exist regarding CR participation after VAD implantation.
The study included Medicare beneficiaries enrolled for disability or age >65 years. The investigators identified VAD recipients by diagnosis codes and cumulated CR sessions occurring within 1 year after VAD implantation. Multivariable-adjusted Andersen-Gill models were used to evaluate the association of CR with 1-year hospitalization risk, and Cox regression was used to evaluate the association of CR with 1-year mortality.
There were 1,164 VADs implanted in Medicare beneficiaries in the United States in 2014. CR use was low, with 348 patients (30%) participating in CR programs. The Midwest had the highest proportion of VAD recipients who began CR (38%), whereas the Northeast had the lowest proportion of CR participants (25%). Each 5-year increase in age was associated with attending an additional 1.6 CR sessions (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.7 to 2.5; p < 0.001). CR participation was associated with a 23% lower 1-year hospitalization risk (95% CI: 11% to 33%; p < 0.001) and a 47% lower 1-year mortality risk (95% CI: 18% to 66%; p < 0.01) after multivariable adjustment.
Approximately one-third of VAD recipients attend CR. Although it is not possible to account fully for unmeasured confounding, VAD recipients who participate in CR appear to have lower risks for hospitalization and mortality.