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Group of seniors exercising
Study shows that older patients do gain substantial improvements to heart fitness when they participate in cardiac rehabilitation programs. (Photo: iStock)

A new study from the cardiac rehab research team at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and Peter Munk Cardiac Centre highlights the benefits experienced by older adults with heart disease who complete cardiac rehabilitation programs.

"Older adults are less likely to be referred to cardiac rehabilitation programs than younger adults," says Dr. Paul Oh, KITE Senior Scientist and GoodLife Fitness Chair.

"This is an unfortunate trend because our findings show that older patients do gain substantial improvements to heart fitness when they participate in these programs."

The study included data from 1,450 Canadian patients with coronary heart disease that completed a six-month cardiac rehabilitation program. Heart fitness improvements were determined for different age brackets.

"We found that 50 to 60 year-olds saw 30 per cent improvement in cardiac fitness after the program, while those in their 80s and 90s experienced 20 per cent improvement," says Dr. Laura Banks, lead author of the study.

"These gains are substantial enough to improve health."

Coronary artery disease is the second leading cause of death in Canada and the most common form of heart disease. These results highlight the need for adults of all ages to be encouraged to participate in these life-saving programs.

This work was supported by the Goodlife Fitness Centre for Excellence in Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation and the Toronto Rehab Foundation.

Read more about the study.​

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