We sought to examine the improvements in physiological outcomes, including exercise capacity, in women completing a 12-week gender-specific (tailored) compared to a traditional cardiac rehabilitation (CR) program.
A 2-group randomized clinical trial compared symptom limited graded exercise test (SL-GXT), lipid, and anthropometric parameters among 99 women completing a traditional 12-week CR program to 137 women completing a tailored CR program.
Compared to baseline, improvement in estimated peak metabolic equivalents (METs) was similar (P=.159) between the tailored (6.0±2.7 to 7.6±2.8) and the traditional CR program (5.6±2.3 to 7.1±2.8). The amount of change in SL-GXT, anthropometric parameters, lipid profiles, and peak treadmill time from baseline to post-CR were also similar between the 2 groups. Given comparable improvements of the 2 CR programs, in the full cohort, factors independently associated with post-CR METs, in rank order, included baseline METs (part correlation=0.44, P<.001), perceived physical functioning (0.24, P<.001), waist circumference (−0.10, P=.006), and age (−0.11, P=.004). Factors independently associated with post-CR treadmill time included baseline treadmill time (part correlation=0.42, P<.001), perceived physical functioning (0.30, p<.001), waist circumference (−0.12, P=.002), and age (−0.10, P=.006).
Exercise capacity was significantly improved among women completing both CR programs. In the context of CR, modifiable factors positively associated with post-CR exercise capacity included reduced waist circumference and improved physical functioning. Future research on strategies for reducing abdominal obesity and improving perceived physical functioning and exercise capacity among women attending CR is warranted.