Women and Cardiac Rehabilitation After Heart Surgery: Patterns of Referral and Adherence


  • Sandra K. Plach PhD RN CCRN

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    • Sandra K. Plach is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, School of Nursing. Her research program centers on women with chronic disease, with an emphasis on women with heart disease

1223 Hickory Drive North, Waukesha, WI 53186


This cross-sectional, descriptive study examined patterns of referral of women to cardiac rehabilitation programs after heart surgery, their adherence to those programs, and whether their participation differed according to their age ranges. A Cardiac Rehabilitation Participation questionnaire was mailed to 157 women who were selected from the records of 4 hospitals and 7 physician groups. Of the 157 women, 122 had been referred to a cardiac rehabilitation program. Ten (8.3%) of 122 did not attend the program at all, and 25 (29%) did not attend as often as had been recommended. Women who had bypass surgery were more likely to have been referred than were those who had valvular surgery. Patterns of referral and adherence were similar in older women (66 years or older) to the patterns for women in midlife (32 to 65 years). Study participants indicated that health, convenience, work or time constraints, or personal preferences were factors that most interfered with their attending the programs. Age was not a factor.