The findings of this review demonstrate that women appear to use CR services less frequently than men and, when they enroll, present differently at entry to CR. Women often are older, likely because they experience later onset of CHD; present with greater medical comorbidities; and perceive greater psychosocial challenges such as less social support and quality of life. Given these additional burdens experienced by female CR participants, women may have fewer physical and emotional resources for fully attending, adhering to, and, ultimately, benefiting from CR than men. Previously reported studies have indicated that men and women participating in CR appear to experience improvements in exercise capacity and QOL. However, whether women in particular are able to sustain these benefits has not been examined. There is some emerging evidence that women may struggle more psychosocially than their male counterparts. Whether these psychosocial challenges persist in the years after participation in CR, or whether these challenges influence long-term medical outcomes such as incidence of restenosis, reinfarction, or CHD mortality remains unanswered and continues to be an important focus for future research.
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