All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Eric P Plaisance

Advisory Committee Members

Gordon Fisher

Cody Morris

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Science (MS) School of Education


ABSTRACT Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) programs are designed to improve functional capacity, quality of life, reduce cardiovascular risk factors, and improve psychosocial well-being through lifestyle management strategies. While CR programs effectively reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors and improve functional capacity at discharge, little is known regarding long-term lifestyle behavior changes and changes in functional capacity that occur following discharge. PURPOSE: Examine changes in 6-minute walk distance (6MWD) 11-15 months following discharge from CR to evaluate long-term changes in functional capacity. METHODS: Patients who completed 24-36 sessions and 6-minute walk tests [6MWT, intake, discharge, and post-discharge (11-15 months following discharge)] between 2016-2019 at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) were included in this pilot study. Twenty-two patients with diagnosed CVD (myocardial infarction, angina, PCI, CABS, valve replacement) were included in the study. Repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to examine differences over time for 6MWD with least significance difference (LSD) post-hoc testing (SPSS, v25). RESULTS: 6MWD increased by 30% from intake to discharge (388 ± 96 m vs. 504 ± 123 m, P < 0.0001). Post-discharge (11-15 months following discharge) walking distance (519 ± 118 m) remained higher than intake (P < 0.0001) but was similar to discharge (P = 0.091). Body weight, waist circumference, systolic blood pressure (SBP), and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) all returned to baseline intake values at post-discharge. CONCLUSIONS. The results of this study suggest that CR may produce lifestyle and behavioral changes that promote long-term maintenance of functional capacity. While an extensive examination of other risk factors was not performed, increases in body weight and blood pressure observed 11-15 months post-discharge are discouraging. A thorough examination of the long-term consequences of these findings in the face of preserved functional capacity will be needed to explore the interaction between functional capacity and other risk factors as it relates to secondary prevention of CVD.

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