Rehabilitation is recommended for many patients following a hospital stay for acute heart disease. In a recent original article in Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl int 112: 527-34) Axel Schlitt et al. show that this improves prognosis for heart disease and can thus reduce patient mortality.
More than 1900 patients in Saxony-Anhalt were contacted and asked to fill out a questionnaire. They had spent time in the hospital for serious cardiovascular disease an average of 11 years earlier. The authors used the data to analyze how many of the patients who had died had participated in rehabilitation and whether they had died of heart disease. Among those who had undergone rehabilitation, one in nearly 44 patients died of heart disease during the study period. Without rehabilitation, seven times as many died. The authors stress that the indication of rehabilitation remains problematic for some conditions, such as stable angina: although heart patients would benefit from the better prognosis and lower mortality following rehabilitation, this is not clearly stated in Book IX of the German Social Security Code, so requests for rehabilitation are not always approved.