Physical Rehabilitation in Older Patients Hospitalized with Acute Heart Failure and Diabetes: Insights from REHAB-HF

Published:September 10, 2021DOI:



      Prior studies showed an attenuated response to exercise training among patients with heart failure and type 2 diabetes mellitus. We explored the interaction between diabetes status and a novel, transitional, tailored, progressive rehabilitation intervention that improved physical function compared with usual care in the Rehabilitation Therapy in Older Acute Heart Failure Patients (REHAB-HF) trial.


      The effect of the intervention on 3-month Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) (primary endpoint), 6-minute walk distance (6MWD), modified Fried frailty criteria, and quality-of-life scores (Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire [KCCQ] and EuroQoL Visual Analogue Scale [VAS]) was compared between participants with and without diabetes. Differences in 6-month clinical outcomes were also explored.


      Of the 349 participants enrolled in REHAB-HF, 186 (53%) had diabetes. The prevalence of diabetes was higher in the intervention group (59% vs 48%). Participants with diabetes had worse baseline physical function by the SPPB and 6MWD, but similar frailty and quality-of-life scores. There was a consistent improvement with the intervention for 3-month SPPB, 6MWD, and VAS regardless of diabetes status (all interaction P value > .6), but participants with diabetes had significantly less improvement for frailty (P = .021) and a trend toward lower improvement in KCCQ (P = .11). There was no significant interaction by diabetes status for 6-month clinical event outcomes (all interaction P value > .3).


      Participants with diabetes had worse baseline physical function but showed similar clinically meaningful improvements from the intervention. There was less benefit for frailty with the intervention in participants with diabetes.


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