Coronary heart disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in older patients. For this population cardiac rehabilitation offers an improvement in functional capacity, alleviation of symptoms, enhanced mood state and quality of life, and a modification of coronary risk factors. The components of a comprehensive programme specific to older adults are the same as for younger patients, with exercise training the mainstay. However, the changes that accompany the aging process require some modification in both the aerobic and resistance exercise programmes. Unfortunately, the referral rate of older patients, particularly women, is poor. Hopefully, this could be rectified if physicians come to realize that this segment of the population is the most likely to benefit from cardiac rehabilitation.
Key words: cardiac rehabilitation, aging, exercise training, coronary heart disease, referral patterns.