The first performance measures to increase cardiac rehabilitation (CR) referrals and establish standards of excellence are being jointly released by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR), the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA).

“The status quo is not acceptable,” said Randal Thomas, MD, director of the cardiovascular health clinic at Mayo Clinic and chair of the writing committee for the new CR performance measures.
Fewer than 3 in 10 eligible patients participate in CR after a cardiovascular disease (CVD) event, despite the fact that CR has been shown in multiple studies to reduce the risk of death after a cardiac illness by 20% to 25% and to improve physical strength and endurance by 20% to 50%.

The most common reason for nonreferral of eligible patients is that it has not been a mandated performance measure, and “no one is specifically responsible for making sure that it gets done,” said Marjorie King, director of cardiac services for the Helen Hayes Hospital, West Haverstraw, NY, and member of the performance measures writing committee.

The authors emphasize that the efficacy of the new CR performance measures must be put into use and supported by health systems, providers, insurance carriers, chronic disease organizations and other health care groups providing care to persons with CVD.

The measurements will be published in the September/October issue of the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention, and the October 2 editions of Circulation and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The measures have been endorsed by nine other medical societies.