While recovering, he did something that only a small percentage of patients do: He signed up for a medically supervised cardiac rehabilitation program where he learned about exercise, diet and prescription drugs.
“I had never exercised before,” said Oikonomides, 69, who says he enjoyed it so much he stayed active after finishing the program.
Despite evidence showing such programs substantially cut the risk of dying from another cardiac problem, improve quality of life and lower costs, fewer than one-third of patients whose conditions qualify for the rehab actually participate. Various studies show women and minorities, especially African Americans, have the lowest participation rates.
“Frankly, I’m a little discouraged by the lack of attention,” said Brian Contos, who has studied the programs for the Advisory Board, a consulting firm used by hospitals and other medical providers.
Now, though, advocates say cardiac rehab may gain traction, partly because the federal health care law puts hospitals on a financial hook for penalties if patients are readmitted after cardiac problems. Studies have shown that patients’ participation in cardiac rehab cut hospital readmissions by nearly a third and saved money.
(Kaiser Health News, Julie Appleby, August 31, 2016)
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