By Julie Appleby
Kaiser Health News
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Mario Oikonomides credits a massive heart attack when he was 38 for sparking his love of exercise, which he says helped keep him out of the hospital for decades after.
While recovering, he did something that only a small percentage of patients do: He signed up for a medically supervised cardiac rehabilitation program where he learned about exercise, diet and prescription drugs.
“I had never exercised before,” said Oikonomides, 69, who says he enjoyed it so much he stayed active after finishing the program.
Despite evidence showing such programs substantially cut the risk of dying from another cardiac problem, improve quality of life and lower costs, fewer than one-third of patients whose conditions qualify for the rehab actually participate. Various studies show women and minorities, especially African Americans, have the lowest participation rates. [Read more…] about Cardiac rehab improves health, but cost and access issues can limit success