Despite known benefits of cardiac rehabilitation (CR), early termination (failure to complete >1 mo of CR) attenuates these benefits. We analyzed whether early termination varied by referral indication in the context of recent growth in patients referred for heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF).
We reviewed records from 1111 consecutive patients enrolled in the NYU Langone Health Rusk CR program (2013-2017). Sessions attended, demographics, and comorbidities were abstracted, as well as primary referral indication: HFrEF or ischemic heart disease (IHD; including post-coronary revascularization, post-acute myocardial infarction, or chronic stable angina). We compared rates of early termination between HFrEF and IHD, and used multivariable logistic regression to determine whether differences persisted after adjusting for relevant characteristics (age, race, ethnicity, body mass index, smoking, hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and depression).
Mean patient age was 64 yr, 31% were female, and 28% were nonwhite. Most referrals (85%) were for IHD; 15% were for HFrEF. Early termination occurred in 206 patients (18%) and was more common in HFrEF (26%) than in IHD (17%) (P < .01). After multivariable adjustment, patients with HFrEF remained at higher risk of early termination than patients with IHD (unadjusted OR = 1.73, 95% CI, 1.17-2.54; adjusted OR = 1.53, 95% CI, 1.01-2.31).
Nearly 1 in 5 patients in our program terminated CR within 1 mo, with HFrEF patients at higher risk than IHD patients. While broad efforts at preventing early termination are warranted, particular attention may be required in patients with HFrEF.