Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death globally. Traditionally, centre-based cardiac rehabilitation programmes are offered to individuals after cardiac events to aid recovery and prevent further cardiac illness. Home-based cardiac rehabilitation programmes have been introduced in an attempt to widen access and participation. This is an update of a review originally published in 2009.
To compare the effect of home-based and supervised centre-based cardiac rehabilitation on mortality and morbidity, health-related quality of life, and modifiable cardiac risk factors in patients with heart disease.
To update searches from the previous Cochrane review, we searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL, The Cochrane Library, Issue 9, 2014), MEDLINE (Ovid, 1946 to October week 1 2014), EMBASE (Ovid, 1980 to 2014 week 41), PsycINFO (Ovid, 1806 to October week 2 2014), and CINAHL (EBSCO, to October 2014). We checked reference lists of included trials and recent systematic reviews. No language restrictions were applied.
Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that compared centre-based cardiac rehabilitation (e.g. hospital, gymnasium, sports centre) with home-based programmes in adults with myocardial infarction (MI), angina, heart failure or who had undergone revascularisation.
Two authors independently assessed the eligibility of the identified trials and data were extracted by a single author and checked by a second. Authors were contacted where possible to obtain missing information.
Seventeen trials included a total of 2172 participants undergoing cardiac rehabilitation following an acute MI or revascularisation, or with heart failure. This update included an additional five trials on 345 patients with heart failure. Authors of a number of included trials failed to give sufficient detail to assess their potential risk of bias, and details of generation and concealment of random allocation sequence were particularly poorly reported. In the main, no difference was seen between home- and centre-based cardiac rehabilitation in outcomes up to 12 months of follow up: mortality (relative risk (RR) = 0.79, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.43 to 1.47, P = 0.46, fixed-effect), cardiac events (data not poolable), exercise capacity (standardised mean difference (SMD) = -0.10, 95% CI -0.29 to 0.08, P = 0.29, random-effects), modifiable risk factors (total cholesterol: mean difference (MD) = 0.07 mmol/L, 95% CI -0.24 to 0.11, P = 0.47, random-effects; low density lipoprotein cholesterol: MD = -0.06 mmol/L, 95% CI -0.27 to 0.15, P = 0.55, random-effects; systolic blood pressure: mean difference (MD) = 0.19 mmHg, 95% CI -3.37 to 3.75, P = 0.92, random-effects; proportion of smokers at follow up (RR = 0.98, 95% CI 0.79 to 1.21, P = 0.83, fixed-effect), or health-related quality of life (not poolable). Small outcome differences in favour of centre-based participants were seen in high density lipoprotein cholesterol (MD = -0.07 mmol/L, 95% CI -0.11 to -0.03, P = 0.001, fixed-effect), and triglycerides (MD = -0.18 mmol/L, 95% CI -0.34 to -0.02, P = 0.03, fixed-effect, diastolic blood pressure (MD = -1.86 mmHg; 95% CI -0.76 to -2.95, P = 0.0009, fixed-effect). In contrast, in home-based participants, there was evidence of a marginally higher levels of programme completion (RR = 1.04, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.07, P = 0.009, fixed-effect) and adherence to the programme (not poolable). No consistent difference was seen in healthcare costs between the two forms of cardiac rehabilitation.
This updated review supports the conclusions of the previous version of this review that home- and centre-based forms of cardiac rehabilitation seem to be equally effective for improving the clinical and health-related quality of life outcomes in low risk patients after MI or revascularisation, or with heart failure. This finding, together with the absence of evidence of important differences in healthcare costs between the two approaches, supports the continued expansion of evidence-based, home-based cardiac rehabilitation programmes. The choice of participating in a more traditional and supervised centre-based programme or a home-based programme should reflect the preference of the individual patient. Further data are needed to determine whether the effects of home- and centre-based cardiac rehabilitation reported in these short-term trials can be confirmed in the longer term. A number of studies failed to give sufficient detail to assess their risk of bias.