Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation: an Underutilized Resource

  • Andrew M. FreemanEmail author
  • Pam R. Taub
  • Hannah C. Lo
  • Dean Ornish
Public Health Policy (E Klodas, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Public Health Policy


Purpose of Review

To review evidence-based lifestyle modification strategies for secondary prevention and explore how they are incorporated in traditional cardiac rehabilitation (CR) and intensive cardiac rehabilitation (ICR) programs.

Recent Findings

While physical activity is an important element of cardiac rehabilitation, more recent studies support a variety of methods, including stress management and plant-based diets, to reduce cardiovascular risk factors. Patients who participate in traditional CR programs demonstrate clinical improvement, which are significantly greater in intensive CR (ICR). Yet, there is still a disparity in numbers between those who are eligible and those who ultimately enroll.


Research into non-surgical and non-pharmacological health management approaches continues to validate the effectiveness of multidisciplinary intensive CR programs, but there is an increasing need to connect patients with these opportunities.


Cardiac rehabilitation Secondary prevention Coronary heart disease Stress management Physical activity 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Pam R. Taub has no disclosures related to this paper. However, she is a consultant and speaker for Sanofi/Regeneron, Novo-Nordisk, Boehringer-Ingleheim, Janssen, Pfizer, Amarin, and Amgen. She is a stock holder of Cardero Therapeutics. She is also medical director of the Ornish/ICR program at UC San Diego Health System.

Hannah C. Lo declares no conflict of interest.

Andrew M. Freeman does non-promotional speaking for Boehringer-Ingleheim. He is also medical director of the Ornish/ICR program at National Jewish Health.

Dean Ornish receives royalties from books, fees from Sharecare, and sometimes honoraria from lecturing.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors. It is a review article summarizing previously published human studies.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew M. Freeman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Pam R. Taub
    • 2
  • Hannah C. Lo
    • 2
  • Dean Ornish
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of CardiologyNational Jewish HealthDenverUSA
  2. 2.Division of Cardiovascular MedicineUniversity of California San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  3. 3.Preventive Medicine Research Institute and Department of MedicineUniversity of California San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA

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