In Western countries, the aging and improving survival of patients with coronary heart disease are responsible for an increasing number of older adults (65 years of age and older) who are eligible for cardiac rehabilitation. The elderly with coronary heart disease represent a special population with changes induced by aging and lifestyle, comorbidity, cognitive dysfunction, and high risk of disability. Although the elderly account for the majority of cardiac admissions and procedures, studies on cardiac rehabilitation have traditionally focused on younger patients. In aged experimental animals, there is evidence that exercise training is able to improve hemodynamic parameters and biologic markers. Moreover, in older patients, exercise improves functional capacity and reduces myocardial work, similar to that seen in younger patients. As for younger patients, cardiac rehabilitation requires a multidisciplinary approach, including comprehensive assessment, treatment of risk factors and comorbidity, and psychosocial assessment. Cardiac rehabilitation is safe and helpful for elderly coronary patients. Physicians must be encouraged to prescribe cardiac rehabilitation programs for the elderly following major coronary events and coronary revascularization procedures.
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