Differential Impact of a Cardiac Rehabilitation Program on Functional Parameters in Elderly versus Non-Elderly Myocardial Infarction Survivors

BACKGROUND:

Exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation (EBCR) plays a pivotal role in the management of acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Studies have shown that older individuals have a worse prognosis after an AMI, attesting to the importance of risk reduction strategies. We aimed at assessing the impact of age (patients dichotomized as ≥65 years old or <65 years old) on the functional benefits of an EBCR program among AMI survivors.

DESIGN:

Observational, retrospective cohort study.

PARTICIPANTS:

All patients admitted due to an AMI who completed a phase II EBCR program after discharge, between November 2012 and April 2017.

INTERVENTION:

EBCR program.

MEASUREMENTS:

Functional parameters were assessed by a symptom-limited cardiopulmonary exercise test.

RESULTS:

A total of 379 patients were included (30% aged ≥65 years). After the EBCR program, peak oxygen uptake (pVO2) and exercise duration increased significantly. Patients aged ≥65 years presented with more comorbidities and a lower functional capacity. Those aged ≥65 years presented significantly smaller improvements in pVO2 (0.79 ± 2.61 vs. 1.60 ± 3.11 mL/kg/min, p = 0.016) and exercise duration [75 (59-120) vs. 120 s (60-180), p = 0.002]. This was maintained after adjusting for several potential confounders.

CONCLUSION:

Older patients have a worse functional capacity than their younger counterparts. Still, a contemporary EBCR program was associated with significant functional improvements among those aged ≥65 years. The smaller improvements even after adjustments for potential confounders suggest that physiological differences may contribute to this finding.