Cardiac rehabilitation

Cardiac rehabilitation helps people who have recently had a heart event, procedure or the diagnosis of a heart condition to rebuild health-related quality of life, stay out of hospital and reduce the risk of future health complications.

Hospital and community-based health programs provide physical activity, education and support, working alongside patient’s GPs and cardiologists. Outpatient cardiac rehabilitation usually commences soon after discharge from hospital:

  • of 49,900 eligible patients assessed in 2013–2015, 30% were referred to cardiac rehabilitation, and of these 28% attended (Astley et al. 2020)
  • in 2020–21 there were 215,000 cardiac rehabilitation service events conducted by allied health and/or clinical nurse specialists, lower than the 272,000 events in 2019–20 (AIHW 2022).

A set of indicators to evaluate cardiac rehabilitation performance has recently been developed (NHF 2019, Gallagher et al. 2020).

The figure shows a stock image of a man riding a bike.Cyril's story

‘I always say, “you’re the CEO in charge of your own body”, you need to take control. Cardiac rehab provided me with the structure to get back to the activities I used to do.’

Cyril survived a heart attack and said cardiac rehab changed his life.

Learn more about Cyril's cardiac rehab story

Stroke rehabilitation

Stroke rehabilitation helps stroke survivors to relearn and maintain their skills and functioning. It also seeks to protect them from developing new medical problems.

Therapy often begins in hospital soon after the condition has stabilised. It can continue out-of-hospital, through attending outpatient units, or participating in home-based rehabilitation programs.

  • in 2019, there were 9,400 patients in surveyed hospitals who required stroke rehabilitation services, accounting for 30% of all inpatient stroke admissions
  • of a group of 2,800 stroke survivors assessed before hospital discharge in 2019, 64% were referred for further rehabilitation in the community (Stroke Foundation 2020).

The National Stroke Audit reviews in-hospital rehabilitation services biennially to promote the delivery of evidence-based stroke care (Stroke Foundation 2020).