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Study Reveals the Importance of Cardiac Rehabilitation

Comstock/Thinkstock(ROCHESTER, Minn.) -- Patients with heart disease and especially those who survive a heart attack can reduce their risk of death by undergoing cardiac rehabilitation.

Now a study in the journal Circulation says this also applies to those who have had an angioplasty, a procedure that restores blood flow by widening blood vessels that have become narrowed or blocked.

The Mayo Clinic study looked at more than 2,000 patients who underwent angioplasties over a 15-year period.  It found that those who participated in cardiac rehabilitation were almost 50 percent less likely to die within six years than those who did not have the rehab.

Rehab programs include patient education, supervised exercise training, nutrition counseling and help to quit smoking.

Medicare and most health insurance plans cover cardiac rehabilitation, yet it's estimated that only one in four eligible patients actually get it.

The authors say that if all eligible patients had cardiac rehabilitation, the gains in long-term survival would be substantial.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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