Home-based preoperative rehabilitation (prehab) to improve physical function and reduce hospital length of stay for frail patients undergoing coronary artery bypass graft and valve surgery

Iain Waite*, Ranjit Deshpande, Max Baghai, Tania Massey, Olaf Wendler, Sharlene Greenwood

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Evidence suggests that elective cardiac patients are at risk of functional and psychological deterioration in the time preceding surgery. This poses a risk to successful post-operative rehabilitation. This prospective one-group pre-test, post-test evaluation was designed to assess a clinical Pre-operative Rehabilitation (PREHAB) home-based exercise programme, to optimise pre-operative physical function and frailty in patients awaiting elective Coronary Artery By-Pass Graft (CABG) or Valve Surgery. Method: Consenting patients awaiting cardiac surgery, with wait time ≥ 6 weeks were referred to a Senior Physiotherapist for baseline assessment. Patients were offered PREHAB in the form of functional home-based exercise that was prescribed from baseline physical outcomes. All patients were followed up via telephone to ensure progression of exercise and any problems associated with it. This continued weekly until the patient attended Surgical Pre-assessment clinic, where all outcome measures were re-assessed. Results: Twenty two patients, out of a total number of 36 patients seen in the surgical clinic between March 2016 and August 2016, participated in the prehab clinical evaluation. Twenty patients completed their prescribed exercises on a weekly basis prior to surgery. No adverse events or cardiac symptoms were reported as a result of the home exercise intervention. Paired t-Test analyses revealed a significant mean difference in clinical frailty score (CFS) of -0.53 ± 0.51 (95% CI [-0.774, -0.279], P = 0.0003). Significant mean difference in six-minute walk test (6MWT) distance of 42.5 ± 27.8 m (95% CI [23.840, 61.251], P = 0.0005), 6MWT walking speed of 0.5 ± 0.4kmh (95% CI, [0.2433, 0.7567], P = 0.001), and short physical performance battery (SPPB) total score of 2.2 ± 1.7, (95% CI [3.066, 1.200], P = 0.0002) were also observed. The change in 6MWT distance was shown to be significantly associated with hospital length of stay (LOS) (r = 0.7; P = 0.03). Conclusion: This small exploratory evaluation suggests that providing a home-based PREHAB programme for frail patients undergoing CABG or Valve surgery may be able to improve functional ability and reduce hospital length of stay for those patients undergoing cardiac surgery. A frailty score with greater sensitivity may be required to elucidate the influence frailty could have in reducing length of stay. A large randomised controlled study is required to reveal the potential beneficial effects of PREHAB in this patient population.

Original languageEnglish
Article number91
JournalJournal Of Cardiothoracic Surgery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2017


  • Cardiac surgery
  • Frailty
  • Length of stay
  • Prehab
  • Rehabilitation


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