Cardiac Rehabilitation and Secondary Prevention in Patients with Coronary Artery Disease and Atrial Fibrillation

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Background: Referral to and participation in cardiac rehabilitation (CR) in Canada and elsewhere remains suboptimal. The evidence for the benefits of CR in reducing incidence of atrial fibrillation (AF) in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) is modest. Furthermore, whether multifactorial risk factor intervention is effective in improving prognosis in patients with AF remains unclear. Methods: We studied these questions by conducting two projects. Project 1 is a systematic review, which evaluated evidence on the effects of multifactorial risk factor intervention in patients with AF. Project 2 is a retrospective cohort study, which evaluated the relationships of CR completion status and cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) across a CR program with the risk of incident AF. These analyses in Project 2 were performed by linking databases from an Alberta provincial cardiac catheterization registry, a city-wide CR program in Calgary, and Alberta provincial health administrative datasets. Results: In Project 1, the systematic review suggested that multifactorial risk factor intervention was positively associated with improved AF-related symptoms and health-related quality of life. In Project 2, we first used electrocardiography data to improve the diagnostic yield of administrative data-based AF identification algorithms. We further demonstrated that CR program completion was not associated with lower risk of incident AF after adjusting for baseline characteristics. However, both baseline CRF, 12-week CRF, and CRF changes following CR completion had inverse dose-dependent relationships with the risk of incident AF. Furthermore, we developed a risk prediction model for incident AF in patients completing a CR program, which showed good discrimination and was well calibrated in predicting the risk of AF at 5-years follow-up. Conclusions: These findings have enhanced the importance of multifactorial risk factor intervention in managing patients with AF, and added to the current state of knowledge of CR in improving the prognosis of patients with CAD, thereby providing further support for the promotion of CR. Furthermore, the risk prediction model will help prioritize resources for patients who are at high risk of developing AF and can benefit the most from screening for AF and participating in personalized CR services.
cardiac rehabilitation, secondary prevention, coronary artery disease, atrial fibrillation, cardiorespiratory fitness
Liu, H. (2021). Cardiac Rehabilitation and Secondary Prevention in Patients with Coronary Artery Disease and Atrial Fibrillation (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from