Systematic review of cardiac rehabilitation guidelines: Quality and scope

Vrati M. Mehra, Diann E. Gaalema, Maureen Pakosh, Sherry L. Grace

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Cardiac rehabilitation is a comprehensive model of secondary prevention proven to reduce mortality and morbidity. The World Health Organization is developing a Package of Rehabilitation Interventions for implementation by ministries of health as part of universal healthcare across the continuum. Through a systematic review, we sought to identify the best-quality cardiac rehabilitation guidelines, and extract their recommendations for implementation by member states. A systematic search was undertaken of academic databases and guideline repositories, among other sources, through to April 2019, for English-language cardiac rehabilitation guidelines from the last 10 years, free from conflicts, and with strength of recommendations. Two authors independently considered all citations. Potentially eligible guidelines were rated for quality using the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation tool, and for other characteristics such as being multi-professional, comprehensive and international in perspective; the latter criteria were used to inform selection of 3–5 guidelines meeting inclusion criteria. Equity considerations were also extracted. Altogether, 2076 unique citations were identified. Thirteen passed title and abstract screening, with six guidelines potentially eligible for inclusion in the Package of Rehabilitation Interventions and rated for quality; for two guidelines the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation tool ratings did not meet World Health Organization minimums. Of the four eligible guidelines, three were selected: the International Council of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation (2016), National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (#172; 2013) and Scottish Intercollegiate Guideline Network (#150; 2017). Extracted recommendations were comprehensive, but psychosocial recommendations were contradictory and diet recommendations were inconsistent. A development group of the World Health Organization will review and refine the recommendations which will then undergo peer review, before open source dissemination for implementation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)912-928
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal of Preventive Cardiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiac rehabilitation
  • clinical practice guidelines
  • equity
  • ischemic heart disease
  • quality
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Systematic review of cardiac rehabilitation guidelines: Quality and scope'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this