Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) is a comprehensive program that helps patients recover from heart problems and improve their cardiovascular health. CR involves supervised exercise, education, counseling, and lifestyle modification. CR has been shown to reduce mortality, morbidity, hospitalization, and health care costs for patients with coronary artery disease, heart failure, or other cardiac conditions .
However, despite the proven benefits of CR, many patients do not participate in or complete the program. According to a recent study, only 23.4% of eligible patients in the United States attended at least one CR session within a year of hospital discharge . This low uptake of CR is a major public health concern, as it limits the potential impact of CR on improving patient outcomes and quality of life.
One of the key factors that influence CR participation is patient barriers. Patient barriers are any personal, social, or environmental factors that prevent or discourage patients from attending CR. Some examples of patient barriers are lack of awareness, motivation, or referral; transportation or financial difficulties; competing work or family responsibilities; comorbidities or physical limitations; and low self-efficacy or perceived benefits .
Understanding patient barriers to CR is essential for designing effective interventions to increase CR enrollment and adherence. Therefore, this blog post aims to provide an overview of the main patient barriers to CR and suggest some possible strategies to overcome them.