Introduction Studies on effectiveness of cardiac rehabilitation (CR) in elderly cardiovascular disease patients are rare, and it is unknown, which patients benefit most. We aimed to identify predictors for 1-year outcomes of cardiorespiratory fitness and CV risk factor (CVRF) control in patients after completing CR programs offered across seven European countries. Methods Cardiovascular disease patients with minimal age 65 years who participated in comprehensive CR were included in this observational study. Peak oxygen uptake (VO2), body mass index (BMI), resting systolic blood pressure (BPsys), and low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C) were assessed before CR (T0), at termination of CR (T1), and 12 months after start of CR (T2). Predictors for changes were identified by multivariate regression models. Results Data was available from 1241 out of 1633 EU-CaRE patients. The strongest predictor for improvement in peak VO2 was open chest surgery, with a nearly four-fold increase in surgery compared to non-surgery patients. In patients after surgery, age, female sex, physical inactivity and time from index event to T0 were negative predictors for improvement in peak VO2. In patients without surgery, previous acute coronary syndrome and higher exercise capacity at T0 were the only negative predictors. Neither number of attended training sessions nor duration of CR were significantly associated with change in peak VO2. Non-surgery patients were more likely to achieve risk factor targets (BPsys, LDL-C, BMI) than surgery patients. Conclusions In a previously understudied population of elderly CR patients, time between index event and start of CR in surgery and disease severity in non-surgery patients were the most important predictors for long-term improvement of peak VO2. Non-surgery patients had better CVRF control.
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