Characteristics and Outcomes of Cardiac Rehabilitation Patients With and Without Cancer: Insights From Western Sydney

Matthew Hollings*, Nicole Gordon, Julie Redfern, Liza Thomas, Anna Singleton, Qiang Tu, Robert Zecchin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Increased cardiovascular events are common in cancer survivors and contribute to an emerging cardio-oncology patient group requiring secondary prevention strategies including cardiac rehabilitation (CR). This study aimed to compare characteristics and outcomes for patients participating in CR with and without an existing cancer diagnosis. 


Observational cohort study including consecutive patients enrolled in a single-centre outpatient CR program in Western Sydney between 2018–2022. Clinical history, demographics and CR outcome data were collected as part of standard care at program enrolment and completion. Patients with and without a cancer diagnosis were compared at enrolment and outcomes were analysed in both groups. 


A total of 1,792 patients enrolled in CR, 191 (11%) had a documented history of cancer; prostate (18%), skin (12%), colon (9%) and breast (8%) malignancies were most prevalent. The most common treatments were surgical resection (80%) and chemotherapy or radiotherapy (37%). Cardio-oncology patients were older (68.8±10.6 vs 59.8±13.7yrs, p<0.001), more likely female (33% vs 21%, p<0.001), born in Australia (46% vs 35%, p=0.004), non-partnered (34% vs 25%, p=0.002) and had a prior history of hypertension (65% vs 56%, p=0.010) or stroke (8% vs 5%, p=0.045). After adjusting for age and sex, the overall cohort improved their mean peak exercise capacity and waist circumference after CR, however there were no differences between groups. There were also no between-group differences for adherence and completion of CR program or any other cardiovascular risk factors. Sub-analyses revealed a clinically meaningful improvement in waist circumference for cancer patients with a history of radiation therapy and a blunted peak exercise capacity adaptation for those with a history of chemotherapy treatment. Conclusions: Despite differences in demographic and clinical characteristics of CR patients with and without cancer, all patients showed significant and clinically relevant improvements in peak exercise capacity and waist circumference after CR. Results also highlighted potential associations between specific cancer treatments and changes in fitness outcomes, which warrants further evaluation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)730-737
Number of pages8
JournalHeart Lung and Circulation
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2024
Externally publishedYes


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