PURPOSE: Despite demonstrated benefits of cardiac rehabilitation and risk factor reduction, only 11% to 38% of eligible patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD) participate in cardiac rehabilitation programs. Women and older adults are particularly less likely to participate in cardiac rehabilitation. In an effort to broaden access to cardiac rehabilitation, the authors developed an alternative Internet-based program that allows nurse case managers to provide risk factor management training, risk factor education, and monitoring services to patients with CVD. METHODS: The evaluation consisted of a randomized, clinical trial involving 104 patients with CVD, 53 of whom used the program as a special intervention (SI) for 6 months and 51 of whom received usual care (UC). RESULTS: The results indicate that fewer cardiovascular events occurred among the SI subjects (15.7%) than among the UC subjects (4.1%) (P =.053), resulting in a gross cost savings of $1418 US dollars per patient. With a projected program cost of $453 USD per patient, the return on investment is estimated at 213%. More weight loss occurred in the SI group (-3.68 pounds) than in the UC group (+.47 pounds) (P =.003). The differences between the two groups in terms of blood pressure, lipid levels, depression scores, minutes of exercise, and dietary habits were not statistically significant. CONCLUSION: An Internet-based case management system could be used as a cost-effective intervention for patients with CVD, either independently or in conjunction with traditional cardiac rehabilitation.
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