Background Recent data indicate that young patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) have a poor long-term prognosis. Although the benefits of formal cardiac rehabilitation and exercise training programs are well established, most of these data come from middle-aged and older patients.
Methods We assessed baseline behavioral data, quality of life, and risk profiles in 635 consecutive patients with CAD before and after cardiac rehabilitation and exercise training, and specifically assessed data in 104 young patients (mean ± SD age, 48 ± 6 years; range, 22-54 years) compared with 260 elderly patients (mean ± SD age, 75 ± 3 years; range, 70-85 years).
Results Compared with older patients, young patients had higher body mass indexes (12.2%, P<.001), total cholesterol–high-density lipoprotein ratio (14.6%, P<.01), and triglycerides level (27.2%, P<.01), and a lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level (–8.8%, P=.045). Young patients also had higher scores for anxiety and hostility (51.5% and 94.4%, respectively; P<.001 for both), a considerably higher prevalence of anxiety (27.9% vs 13.5%; P<.01) and hostility (12.5% vs 4.6%; P<.01) symptoms, and slightly more depression symptoms (23.1% vs 18.8%) compared with elderly patients. Following cardiac rehabilitation and exercise training, young patients had improvements in body mass index (–1.7%, P<.01), percentage body fat (–4.4%, P<.001), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level (10.2%, P<.001), high-sensitivity C-reactive protein level (–33.3%, P<.01), peak oxygen consumption (11.3%, P<.001), resting heart rate (–4.5%, P=.01), and resting systolic pressure (–2.3%, P=.049), and marked improvements in scores for depression (–58.5%), anxiety (–46.0%), hostility (–45.7%), somatization (–33.8%), and quality of life (15.8%) (P<.001 for all). Young patients also had greater than 50% to greater than 80% reductions in the prevalence of anxiety (P<.001), hostility (P<.01), and depression (P<.001).
Conclusion These data demonstrate the adverse psychological and CAD risk profiles that are present in young patients with CAD following major CAD events, and are consistent with substantial benefit of formal cardiac rehabilitation and exercise training programs in younger adults.