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Health Spotlight: Cardiac rehab increases bypass survival

Health Spotlight: Study shows cardiac rehab increases bypass survival

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Researchers say a means of reducing the risk of death years after heart surgery is being underutilized. They say more effort is needed to increase participation.

You could say Sheryl Duda is a model patient. She has diligently attended more than 36 cardiac rehab sessions since having quadruple bypass surgery after a sudden heart attack.

“I was in intensive care, in SICU for six weeks. I was very weak; I was very tired. I was, uh, I didn’t, they didn’t think I was gonna make it,” Duda said.

She credits rehab with saving her life, and a four-year research study by Michigan Medicine backs that up. Duda is representative of the 8,000 participants.

The study found patients who attended cardiac rehab after bypass surgery improved their survival rate by five to six percent.

Those attending more sessions had greater survival benefits.

Michael Thompson, professor of cardiac surgery at Michigan Medicine, said, “The more sessions you attended, the greater the benefit – at least in terms of, kind of, long-term survival.”

Despite the benefits, Duda is the exception, not the rule. Only 12% of the patients in the study completed all 36 sessions.

“It was very hard in the beginning. It kept getting easier and easier as I went on, but in the beginning, it was very difficult because I was in a wheelchair; I couldn’t walk,” Duda said.

Duda was fortunate that her partner Mark brought her to every session. She says he is her motivation to keep going.

The study also found that vulnerable populations have lower rates of attendance, which affects them benefiting from the treatment.

Researchers say more efforts are needed to close the gap between referrals and participation.

This story was created from a script aired on WISH-TV. Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network.