The aim of this study is to assess the effectiveness of home-based cardiac rehabilitation (CR) for heart failure compared to either usual medical care (i.e. no CR) or centre-based CR on mortality, morbidity, exercise capacity, health-related quality of life, drop out, adherence rates, and costs. Randomised controlled trials were initially identified from previous systematic reviews of CR. We undertook updated literature searches of MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycINFO and Cochrane Library to December 2015. A total of 19 trials with median follow up of 3months were included – 17 comparisons of home-based CR to usual care (995 patients) and four comparing home and centre-based CR (295 patients). Compared to usual care, home-based CR improved VO2max (mean difference: 1.6ml/kg/min, 0.8 to 2.4) and total Minnesota Living with Quality of Life score (-3.3, -7.5 to 1.0), with no difference in mortality, hospitalisation or study drop out. Outcomes and costs were similar between home-based and centre-based CR with the exception of higher levels of trial completion in the home-based group (relative risk: 1.2, 1.0 to 1.3).
Home-based CR results in short-term improvements in exercise capacity and health-related quality of life of heart failure patients compared to usual care. The magnitude of outcome improvement is similar to centre-based CR. Home-based CR appears to be safe with no evidence of increased risk of hospitalisation or death. These findings support the provision of home-based CR for heart failure as an evidence-based alternative to the traditional centre-based model of provision.