Prevention programs help people with heart disease

A variety of secondary prevention programs, even ones lacking an exercise component, can improve the health outcomes of people with coronary artery disease, new research shows.

Previous reports have shown a survival benefit for supervised exercise programs in Heart Attack survivors. However, it was unclear if other types of secondary prevention could also yield a benefit, Dr. Finlay A. McAlistar, from the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton, Canada, and colleagues note in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The team investigated this topic by analyzing data from trials published between 1966 and 2004. A total of 63 trials involving 21,295 patients with coronary artery disease were included in the analysis.

The studies covered three main types of secondary prevention programs: those with a structured exercise component, others that focused on risk factor education or counseling, and programs that featured a combination of both.

All three types of programs cut the risk of death to a similar extent with reductions ranging from 12 to 28 percent. They also reduced the risk of having a Heart Attack from 14 percent to 38 percent.

Further analysis showed that the programs also improved functional status and quality of life, although the effect was modest, McAlistar and colleagues note.

“Although the interventions tested in these trials varied substantially and the trials enrolled highly selected study samples, secondary prevention programs improve processes of care, coronary risk factor profiles, and functional status or quality of life,” the researchers conclude.

Further studies are needed to address the long-term clinical and economic outcomes of such programs, they add.

SOURCE: Annals of Internal Medicine, November 1, 2005.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: June 20, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD