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PURPOSE: The efficacy of alternative delivery models for a cardiac rehabilitation program (CRP) in low- and middle-income countries is not well documented. This study compared the traditional hospital-based CRP with a hybrid CRP in western Iran.

METHODS: This observational study was conducted with postcoronary surgery patients in Imam-Ali Hospital in Kermanshah, Iran. Both program models included 2 phases: (1) a common preliminary phase (2-4 weeks) involving exercise training and a plan to control cardiac risk factors; and (2) a complementary phase (8 weeks) consisting of group educational classes and exercise training conducted 3 times a week in the hospital or once a week accompanied by phone calls in the hybrid program. Changes in exercise capacity, blood pressure, lipids, resting heart rate, body mass index, waist circumference, smoking, depression, anxiety, and quality of life as well as differences in attendance at hospital sessions were investigated.

RESULTS: From a total of 887 patients, 780 (87.9%) completed the programs. There was no association between course completion and type of CRP. Mean age of patients completing the programs was 55.6 /- 8.7 years and 23.8% were female. The hospital-based (n = 585) and hybrid (n = 195) programs resulted in a significant increase in exercise capacity (P < .001 for both). Additional improvements in other outcomes were noted and attendance rates were similar in both CRPs.

CONCLUSIONS: A well-designed hybrid CRP can be a viable alternative for hospital-based CRP in low- and middle-income countries where there are no appropriate health facilities in remote areas.

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