Cardiac rehabilitation: under-referral and underutilisation

Stephen J Bunker and Alan J Goble
Med J Aust 2003; 179 (7): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2003.tb05583.x
Published online: 6 October 2003

Referrals should be offered to all patients, and the individual needs of each patient considered

Cardiac rehabilitation has progressed markedly since it was introduced into Australia by the National Heart Foundation in 1961. At that time, the focus was on restoration of a sense of wellbeing and encouraging return to work for survivors of acute myocardial infarction and other cardiac illness. The first cardiac rehabilitation programs in Europe and the United States involved mainly supervised, high-intensity exercise training with electrocardiographic monitoring. As data accumulated that similar benefits could be achieved from low, moderate and high levels of exercise intensity,1,2 an Australian hospital model evolved, based on group light exercise and patient education.3 Recognition that psychosocial factors (rather than heart disease) were the main causes of disability after a myocardial infarction led to greater emphasis on counselling, education and support. This led, in turn, to the development of a multidisciplinary team approach to cardiac rehabilitation, with the aim of focusing on and dealing with the range of factors influencing patients’ quality of life.

  • Stephen J Bunker1
  • Alan J Goble2

  • 1 National Heart Foundation, West Melbourne, VIC.
  • 2 Heart Research Centre, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, VIC.



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