Disparities in the Use of Cardiac Rehabilitation in African Americans

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose of review: Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) is a comprehensive outpatient program that reduces the risk of mortality and recurrent events and improves functional status and quality of life for patients recovering from acute cardiovascular disease (CVD) events. Among individuals with established CVD, African Americans have a higher risk of major cardiac events, which underscores the importance of CR use among African Americans. However, despite their high likelihood of adverse outcomes, CR is poorly utilized in African Americans with CVD. We review data on CR utilization among African Americans, barriers to participation, and the implications for policy and practice. Recent findings: Although established as a highly effective secondary prevention strategy, CR is underutilized in general, but especially by African Americans. Notwithstanding efforts to increase CR participation among all groups, participation rates remain low for African Americans and other minorities compared to Non-Hispanic Whites. The low CR participation rates by African Americans can be attributed to an array of factors including differential referral patterns, access to care, and socioeconomic factors. There are several promising strategies to improve CR participation which include promoting evidence-based guidelines, reducing barriers to access, novel CR delivery modalities, including more African Americans in CR clinical research, and increasing diversity in the CR workforce. Summary: African Americans with CVD events are less likely to be referred to, enroll in, and complete CR than Non-Hispanic Whites. There are many factors that impact CR participation by African Americans. Initiatives at the health policy, health system, individual, and community level will be needed to reduce these disparities in CR use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-41
Number of pages11
JournalCurrent Cardiovascular Risk Reports
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022


  • Cardiac rehabilitation
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Disparities
  • Race
  • Utilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Pharmacology


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