Cardiopulmonary MedicineORIGINAL ARTICLE

Effects of the Strong Hearts program after a major cardiovascular event in patients with cardiovascular disease

Bruce E. Murphy, MD, PhD; Peyton D. Card, MD; Leybi Ramirez-Kelly, MD; Amanda M. Xaysuda, MPH; and R. Eric Heidel, PhD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: September 26, 2022

Accepted: February 21, 2023

Published: March 24, 2023

  • Bruce E. Murphy, MD, PhD, 

    Arkansas Heart Hospital, Little Rock, AR, USA

  • Peyton D. Card, MD, 

    Arkansas Heart Hospital, Little Rock, AR, USA

  • Leybi Ramirez-Kelly, MD, 

    Arkansas Heart Hospital, Little Rock, AR, USA

  • Amanda M. Xaysuda, MPH, 

    Arkansas Heart Hospital, Little Rock, AR, USA

  • R. Eric Heidel, PhD, 

    University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine, Knoxville, TN, USA

J Osteopath Med; 123(6): 279-285

Context: Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) and intensive cardiac rehabilitation (ICR) are secondary prevention interventions for cardiovascular disease (CVD) with a class 1a indication yet suboptimal utilization. To date, there are only three approved ICR programs. Alternative programing should be explored to increase enrollment and adherence in these interventions.

Objectives: This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the Strong Hearts program in cardiovascular patients following a major cardiovascular event.

Methods: One hundred ninety-seven (n = 197) participants were enrolled in this prospective, nonrandomized study. Patients were eligible for participation if they were referred by a physician after a major cardiovascular event, defined as any of the following: (1) acute myocardial infarction (MI) within the preceding 12 months; (2) current stable or unstable angina pectoris; (3) heart valve procedure; (4) percutaneous intervention of any kind; (5) heart transplant; (6) coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG); or (7) congestive heart failure (CHF) with reduced or preserved ejection fraction. Participants were asked to attend program visits four times per week for 9 weeks. Visits consisted of individualized exercise and intensive healthy lifestyle education. Paired t tests were utilized to compare pre- and postprogram outcome measures.

Results: One hundred twenty-eight (n = 128) participants completed the program within the 9-week time frame and their outcome measures were included in the data analysis. Among this, 35.2% participants were female and 64.8% were male. The mean age was 65 (range, 19-88). Qualifying diagnoses were percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI; 60, 46.9%), CABG (33, 25.8%), angina (24, 18.8%), valve procedures (8, 6.2%), and CHF (3, 2.3%). After implementation of the intervention, statistically significant decreases in weight (P < .001), body mass index (BMI, P < .001), waist circumference (P < .001), triglycerides (P = .01), systolic blood pressure (SBP, P <.001), diastolic blood pressure (DBP, P = .002), total fat mass (P < .001), Dartmouth Quality of Life Index P < .001), and cardiac depression scores (P = .044) were detected. In other instances, there were statistically significant increases across time for the clinical parameters of high-density lipoprotein (HDL, P = .02), Vitamin D (P = .001), metabolic equivalents (METS, P < .001), Duke activity scores (P < .001), and Rate Your Plate nutrition scores (P < .001). There were no significant changes across time for total cholesterol (P = .17), low-density lipoprotein (LDL, P = .21), A1c (P = .27), or dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) total lean mass (P = .86).

Conclusions: The 9-week structured program resulted in significant cardiovascular benefit to patients with CVD by reducing cardiac risk factors, increasing exercise capacity, and improving quality of life.

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