Background Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) is a cornerstone of secondary prevention of ischemic heart disease. It is critically important in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), where the burden of ischemic heart disease is substantial and growing. However, the availability and utilization of CR in LMIC is not systematically known. Objectives This study sought to characterize the availability, use, and barriers to the use of CR. Methods Electronic databases (Cochrane Library, EMBASE, PubMed, Web of Science) were searched from January 1, 1980 to May 31, 2013 for articles on CR in LMIC. Citations on availability, use, and/or barriers to CR were screened for inclusion by title, abstract, and full text. Data were summarized by region or country to determine the characteristics of CR in LMIC and gaps in the peer-reviewed biomedical publications. Results Our search yielded a total of 5,805 citations, of which 34 satisfied full inclusion and exclusion criteria. The total number of CR programs available ranged from 1 in Algeria and Paraguay to 51 in Serbia. Referral rates for CR ranged from 5.0% in Mexico to 90.3% in Lithuania. Attendance rates ranged from 31.7% in Bulgaria to 95.6% in Lithuania, and CR attendance was correlated with higher educational background. The most commonly cited barrier to CR in LMIC was lack of physician referral. Conclusions Our results illustrate that the published reports reflects heterogeneity of CR availability and use in LMIC. Overall, CR is insufficiently available and underutilized. Further characterization of CR in LMIC, especially in Asia and Africa, is necessary to develop targeted strategies to improve availability and utilization. Patient, physician, and systems factors must be addressed to overcome barriers to participation in CR in LMIC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-334.e10
JournalGlobal Heart
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2017


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