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Early cardiac rehabilitation exercise training for patients after cardiac surgery: a randomised controlled trial

Mr Stuart Ennis, Exercise Physiologist
Cardiac Rehabilitation Department, UHCW NHS Trust

Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) and heart Valve Replacement (VR) operations are common treatments for heart disease and involve cutting through the central chest bone to expose the heart.  Pain and loss of strength following this surgery can persist for up to 12 months leaving many patients unable to perform every day activities or return to work.

Cardiac rehabilitation exercise (CR) improves recovery and reduces complications that might lead to more time in hospital.  However there is no evidence-based guideline for the best time to start CR.  Current expert opinion suggests patients wait 42 days because of fears that exercise may slow healing or cause problems to the repaired chest.  However these concerns have not been proven and may actually slow healing resulting in avoidable muscle wasting and longer recovery time.  Recent trails have confirmed the safety of starting CR at 2 weeks after surgery.

The MLS are funding this trail which will compare health improvements after CR between participants randomly allocated to one of two groups: an early CR group starting exercise after 2 weeks and a usual care group starting at 6 weeks.  Mr Stuart Ennis, Exercise Physiologist at the  Cardiac Rehabilitation Department, UHCW NHS Trust and his team are carrying out this trail and will also collect information on the financial cost of earlier CR to both the health service and to patients.

Mr Ennis aims for this study to shape the national cardiac rehabilitation guidelines for all CR professionals and to make sure patients get the best care after surgery.

Supporting carefully selected research projects in Warwickshire universities, hospitals and Wellesbourne Crop Centre