Clinical UM Guideline

Subject: Outpatient Cardiac Rehabilitation
Guideline #:  CG-REHAB-02 Publish Date:    01/31/2019
Status: Revised Last Review Date:    01/24/2019

This document addresses cardiac rehabilitation services that are provided on an outpatient basis during the immediate post-discharge period and are considered Phase II Cardiac Rehab Programs (see Discussion/General Information section for further information related to the phases of Cardiac Rehabilitation Programs).

Clinical Indications

Medically Necessary:

Phase II cardiac rehabilitation is considered medically necessary when individually prescribed by a physician and the following criteria are met:

  1. Cardiac rehabilitation is initiated within 12 months of ANY of the following:
    1. Acute myocardial infarction (MI); or
    2. Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG); or
    3. Heart transplantation; or
    4. Percutaneous coronary intervention (that is, atherectomy, angioplasty, stenting); or
    5. Survivor of sudden cardiac death; or
    6. Survivor of sustained ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation; or
    7. Valve replacement or repair; or
    8. Class II to IV congestive heart failure (CHF) that is interfering with the ability to perform age-related activities of daily living; or
    9. Coronary artery disease (CAD) with chronic stable angina pectoris that has failed to respond to pharmacotherapy and is interfering with the ability to perform age-related activities of daily living;
  2. The individual does not have an absolute contraindication to cardiac rehabilitation (examples include: unstable angina, overt cardiac failure, dangerous arrhythmias, dissecting aneurysm, myocarditis, acute pericarditis, severe obstruction of the left ventricular outflow tract, severe hypertension, exertional hypotension or syncope, uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, severe orthopedic limitations, and recent systemic or pulmonary embolus);
  3. A formal exercise stress test has been completed following the qualifying cardiac event and prior to initiation of the rehab program or, for individuals at low risk based on current symptoms, clinical features and exercise history, during the first rehabilitation session.

Not Medically Necessary:

The following are considered not medically necessary:

  1. Phase III cardiac rehabilitation programs, or self-directed, self-controlled or monitored exercise programs;
  2. Phase IV cardiac rehabilitation programs or maintenance therapy that may be safely carried out without medical supervision;
  3. Cardiac rehabilitation when used in a preventive or prophylactic way, such as for angina, hypertension, or diabetes.
Place of Service and Frequency/Duration

Place of Service: Ambulatory, Outpatient Facility

The frequency and duration of treatment is determined by the following:

High Risk:
Individuals in the high-risk category may have ANY of the following:

Cardiac Rehabilitation Programs for high-risk individuals may include the following:

Note: If no clinically significant arrhythmia is documented during the first three weeks of the program, the remaining portion may be completed without telemetry monitoring.

Intermediate Risk:
Individuals in the intermediate risk category may have ANY of the following:

Cardiac Rehabilitation Programs for intermediate risk individuals may include the following:

Low Risk:
Individuals in the low risk category may have ANY of the following:

Cardiac Rehabilitation Programs for low risk individuals may include the following:

Additional cardiac rehabilitation services are considered medically necessary based on the above listed criteria in the event the individual has ANY of the following:


The following codes for treatments and procedures applicable to this document are included below for informational purposes. Inclusion or exclusion of a procedure, diagnosis or device code(s) does not constitute or imply member coverage or provider reimbursement policy. Please refer to the member's contract benefits in effect at the time of service to determine coverage or non-coverage of these services as it applies to an individual member.




Physician or other qualified health care professional services for outpatient cardiac rehabilitation; without continuous ECG monitoring (per session)


Physician or other qualified health care professional services for outpatient cardiac rehabilitation; with continuous ECG monitoring (per session)






Intensive cardiac rehabilitation, with or without continuous ECG monitoring with exercise, per session


Intensive cardiac rehabilitation, with or without continuous ECG monitoring without exercise, per session


Cardiac rehabilitation program, non-physician provider, per diem



ICD-10 Diagnosis



All diagnoses

Discussion/General Information

Cardiac rehabilitation is a program of multidisciplinary interventions, designed to assist clinically suitable individuals to attain and maintain their optimal level of functioning. Over the past two decades, risk factor modification programs for individuals with cardiac conditions, commonly referred to as cardiac rehabilitation, have evolved into a comprehensive management strategy. The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) define cardiac rehabilitation programs as, “Coordinated, multifaceted interventions designed to optimize a cardiac patient’s physical, psychological, and social functioning, in addition to stabilizing, slowing, or even reversing the progression of the underlying atherosclerotic processes, thereby reducing morbidity and mortality” (Leon, 2005). Interventions include, “Baseline patient assessments, nutritional counseling, aggressive risk factor management, (i.e., lipids, hypertension, weight, diabetes, and smoking), psychosocial and vocational counseling, and physical activity counseling and exercise training, in addition to the appropriate use of cardioprotective drugs” (Leon, 2005).

According to a 2007 scientific statement from the AHA and the AACVPR (Balady, 2007), which addresses the core components of cardiac rehabilitation/secondary prevention programs, the following is noted:

Symptom-limited exercise testing is strongly recommended prior to participation in an exercise-based CR program. The evaluation may be repeated as changes in clinical condition warrant. Test parameters should include assessment of heart rate and rhythm, signs, symptoms, ST-segment changes, hemodynamics, perceived exertion, and exercise capacity. On the basis of patient assessment and the exercise test if performed, it is recommended to risk stratify the patient to determine the level of supervision and monitoring required during exercise training.

Goel and colleagues (2011) conducted a retrospective review which looked at 2395 individuals over a 14 year period that underwent percutaneous coronary intervention. Of the 2395 individuals who underwent percutaneous coronary intervention, 964 of them enrolled in cardiac rehabilitation following the intervention. Mean follow-up was 6.3 years. During that time, there were 503 deaths, of which 199 were due to cardiovascular disease. Revascularization was required in 755 individuals and 394 individuals had subsequent myocardial infarction. The authors reported a 45% to 47% decrease in mortality of those individuals who participated in cardiac rehabilitation after percutaneous intervention compared with those individuals who did not participate in cardiac rehabilitation.

A study by Lee and colleagues (2014) reported on 576 individuals who were post drug-eluting stent implantation for coronary artery disease who were then referred for cardiac rehabilitation. A total of 288 participants successfully completed the cardiac rehabilitation program. The primary endpoint was in-stent luminal loss at a 9-month angiographic follow-up. Those who completed the cardiac rehabilitation program had a 35% less in-stent luminal loss when compared to those who didn’t complete the cardiac rehabilitation. Those in the cardiac rehabilitation group also showed an improvement in overall risk factors including current smoking, biochemical profiles, depression, obesity and exercise capacity.

Exercise training is the principal component of cardiac rehabilitation, since it results in increased peak exercise capacity, which is usually expressed in METs (metabolic equivalents). This is the total oxygen requirement of the body, with 1 MET equal to 3.5 mL of oxygen consumed per kilogram of body weight per minute. Exercise training improves MET capacity by 10% to 50%, resulting in improved oxygen delivery and extraction by exercising skeletal muscles, thereby decreasing the cardiovascular requirements of exercise and increasing the amount of work that can be done before ischemia occurs. Although dynamic aerobic exercise is necessary to improve cardiovascular endurance, resistance exercise is becoming a useful adjunctive component of the exercise regimen as well. Resistance training should be included in the exercise program to minimize loss of muscle mass.

Cardiac rehabilitation programs are generally divided into four phases: phase I, inpatient or recovery phase; phase II, outpatient or intermediate phase; phase III, community-based or home long-term phase; phase IV, maintenance (Thompson, 2007).

Phases of Cardiac Rehabilitation


Type of Program






  • Inpatient or recovery phase.
  • Begins as soon as the individual is medically stable following a cardiac event (e.g., myocardial infarction, bypass surgery) and continues while the individual remains in the hospital.
  • Consists of 1) early assumption of upright posture; 2) progressive exercise and self-care based on individual tolerance; 3) education; and 4) risk factor identification and initial attempts at modification.


Outpatient, immediately after hospitalization

2 – 12 weeks

  • Outpatient or intermediate phase.
  • Initiated within a few weeks after hospital discharge.
  • Consists of 1) supervised exercise training to maximize functional capacity, teach safe exercise practices, and identify individuals at risk for complications; 2) risk factor modification; and 3) education about medications, signs and symptoms of heart disease and its progression, dietary modifications and activity guidelines.


Late recovery period

Minimum of 6 months beyond phase II

  • Community-based or home long-term phase.
  • Consists of a lifelong program committed to encourage exercise and a healthful lifestyle to minimize recurrence of cardiac problems.
  • Such programs are usually undertaken at home or in a fitness center.




  • Consists of efforts to modify risk factors and a routine program of physical activity that individuals should continue indefinitely.
  • For some programs, phase IV rehabilitation is combined with phase III. All cardiac rehabilitation programs, however, recommend some form of indefinite maintenance for their participants.



Duke Treadmill Score (DTS): A quantitative means of expressing cardiac risk derived entirely from the exercise ECG. It incorporates ST segment deviation (depression or elevation), treadmill time (METS) and exercise-induced angina. The angina index has a value of 0 if there is no angina during exercise, 1 if the individual had non-limiting angina and 2 if angina was the reason the individual stopped exercising. The typical observed range for the DTS is highest risk of –25 to lowest risk of +15.


Peer Reviewed Publications:

  1. Dunlay SM, Pack QR, Thomas RJ, et al. Participation in cardiac rehabilitation, readmissions, and death after acute myocardial infarction. Am J Med. 2014; 127(6):538-546.
  2. Goel K, Lennon RJ, Tilbury RT, et al. Impact of cardiac rehabilitation on mortality and cardiovascular events after percutaneous coronary intervention in the community. Circulation. 2011; 123(21):2344-2352.
  3. Johnson DA, Sacrinty MT, Gomadam PS, et al. Effect of early enrollment on outcomes in cardiac rehabilitation. Am J Cardiol. 2014; 114(12):1908-1911.
  4. Kobashigawa JA, Leaf DA, Lee N, et al. A controlled trial of exercise rehabilitation after heart transplantation. N Engl J Med. 1999; 340(4):272-277.
  5. Lee JY, Yun SC, Ahn JM, et al. Impact of cardiac rehabilitation on angiographic outcomes after drug-eluting stents in patients with de novo long coronary artery lesions. Am J Cardiol. 2014; 113(12):1977-1985.
  6. Pack QR, Dudycha KJ, Roschen KP, et al. Safety of early enrollment into outpatient cardiac rehabilitation after open heart surgery. Am J Cardiol. 2015; 115(4):548-552.
  7. Risom SS, Zwisler AD, Rasmussen TB, et al. Cardiac rehabilitation versus usual care for patients treated with catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation: Results of the randomized CopenHeartRFA trial. Am Heart J. 2016; 181:120-129.
  8. Sibilitz KL, Berg SK, Rasmussen TB, et al. Cardiac rehabilitation increases physical capacity but not mental health after heart valve surgery: a randomised clinical trial. Heart. 2016; 102(24):1995-2003.
  9. Tarro Genta F, Tidu M, Bouslenko Z, et al. Cardiac rehabilitation after transcatheter aortic valve implantation compared to patients after valve replacement. J Cardiovasc Med (Hagerstown). 2017; 18(2):114-120.
  10. Taylor RS, Brown A, Ebrahim S, et al. Exercise-based rehabilitation for patients with coronary heart disease: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Med. 2004; 116(10):682-692.
  11. Wilson JR, Groves J, Rayos G. Congestive heart failure/heart transplantation/pulmonary circulation: Circulatory status and response to cardiac rehabilitation in patients with heart failure. Circulation 1996; 94(7):1567-1572.

Government Agency, Medical Society, and Other Authoritative Publications:

  1. Anderson L, Sharp GA, Norton RJ, et al. RS. Home-based versus centre-based cardiac rehabilitation. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017;6:CD007130
  2. Anderson L, Taylor RS. Cardiac rehabilitation for people with heart disease: an overview of Cochrane systematic reviews. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(12):CD011273.
  3. Anderson L, Thompson D, Oldridge N, et al. Exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation for coronary artery disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016;(67):CD001800.
  4. Balady GJ, Williams MA, Ades PA, et al. Core components of cardiac rehabilitation/secondary prevention programs: 2007 update: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association Exercise, Cardiac Rehabilitation, and Prevention Committee, the Council on Clinical Cardiology; the Councils on Cardiovascular Nursing, Epidemiology and Prevention, and Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism; and the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. Circulation. 2007; 115(20):2675-2682.
  5. Hillis LD, Smith PK, Anderson JL, et al. 2011 ACCF/AHA Guideline for coronary artery bypass graft surgery. A report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Developed in collaboration with the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists, and Society of Thoracic Surgeons. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2011; 58(24):e123-210.
  6. Jessup M, Drazner MH, Book W, et al. 2017 ACC/AHA/HFSA/ISHLT/ACP advanced training statement on advanced heart failure and transplant cardiology (revision of the ACCF/AHA/ACP/HFSA/ISHLT 2010 clinical competence statement on management of patients with advanced heart failure and cardiac transplant): a report of the ACC Competency Management Committee. J Card Fail. 2017; 23(6):492-511.
  7. King M, Bittner V, Josephson R, et al. AACVPR/AHA Scientific Statement medical director responsibilities for outpatient cardiac rehabilitation/secondary prevention programs: 2012 update a statement for health care professionals from the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation and the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2012; 126(21): 2535-2543.
  8. Leon AS, Franklin BA, Costa F, et al. Cardiac rehabilitation and secondary prevention of coronary heart disease: an American Heart Association scientific statement from the Council on Clinical Cardiology (Subcommittee on Exercise, Cardiac Rehabilitation, and Prevention) and the Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism (Subcommittee on Physical Activity), in collaboration with the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. Circulation. 2005; 111(3):369-376.
  9. Levine GN, Bates ER, Blankenship JC, et al. 2011 ACCF/AHA/SCAI Guideline for percutaneous coronary intervention. A report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2011; 58(24):e44-122.
  10. Mosca L, Benjamin EJ, Berra K, et al. Effectiveness-based guidelines for the prevention of cardiovascular disease in women – 2011 update: a guideline from the American Heart Association. J Am Coll Cardiol, 2011; 57(12):1404-1423.
  11. Taylor RS, Sagar V, Davies EJ, et al. Exercise-based rehabilitation for heart failure. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(4):CD003331.
  12. Thomas RJ, King M, Lui K, et al. AACVPR/ACCF/AHA 2010 update: performance measures on cardiac rehabilitation for referral to cardiac rehabilitation/secondary prevention services: a report of the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation and the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Performance Measures (Writing Committee to Develop Clinical Performance Measures for Cardiac Rehabilitation). J Cardiopulm Rehabil Prev. 2010; 30(5):279-288.
  13. Thompson PD. Chapter 46: Comprehensive rehabilitation of patients with cardiovascular disease. In: Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Braunwald E, editors. Braunwald’s heart disease. A textbook of cardiovascular disease. 8th ed. Philadelphia: Saunders. 2007.
  14. Yancy CW, Jessup M, Bozkurt B, et al. 2017 ACC/AHA/HFSA Focused Update of the 2013 ACCF/AHA guideline for the management of heart failure: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines and the Heart Failure Society of America. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2017; 70(6):776-803.
  15. Yancy CW, Jessup M, Bozkurt B, et al. 2013 ACCF/AHA guideline for the management of heart failure: a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2013; 62(16):e147-e239.
Websites for Additional Information
  1. American Heart Association (AHA). What is cardiac rehabilitation? Available at: Accessed on December 14, 2018.

Cardiac Rehabilitation
Phase II Cardiac Rehabilitation







Medical Policy & Technology Assessment Committee (MPTAC) review. Revised Medically Necessary criteria to include Class II CHF individuals and remove need to have failed pharmacotherapy. Updated Websites for Additional Information section.



MPTAC review. Updated References and Websites for Additional Information sections.



MPTAC review. The document header wording updated from “Current Effective Date” to “Publish Date.” Updated References section.



MPTAC review. Updated formatting in Clinical Indications section. Updated Discussion/General Information and Reference sections.



MPTAC review. Title changed to Outpatient Cardiac Rehabilitation. Clarification to Clinical Indications. Updated References. Removed ICD-9 codes from Coding section.



MPTAC review. Updated Discussion/General Information and References.



MPTAC review. Clarification to the Medically Necessary statement. Updated References.



MPTAC review. Updated Discussion/General Information and References. Updated Coding section with 01/01/2013 CPT descriptor changes; removed revenue code 0943.



MPTAC review. Updated Coding, Description, Discussion/General Information, References and Web Sites for Additional Information.



MPTAC review. Updated Discussion/General Information and References.



MPTAC review. No change to criteria. References were updated. Updated Coding section with 01/01/2010 HCPCS changes.



MPTAC review. A criterion was revised to clarify the timing and need for pre-rehab program stress testing or for testing during the first CR session for low risk patients. The requirement under ‘Frequency/Duration’ of services for pre-rehab testing within three weeks of initiating the CR Program was removed. Also, the time for initiation of a Cardiac Rehab Program following the qualifying cardiac event was changed from six months to within twelve months. Annual review was also performed. Discussion section and References were also updated.



MPTAC review. No change to criteria. References were updated.



MPTAC review. No change to guideline criteria. References were updated.



MPTAC review. No change to guideline criteria. The Discussion section and References updated to include the 2005 AHA/AACVPR guideline and the 2005 AHRQ Technology Assessment.



Added reference for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) – National Coverage Determination (NCD).



MPTAC review. Revision based on Pre-merger Anthem and Pre-merger WellPoint Harmonization.

Pre-Merger Organizations

Last Review Date

Document Number


Anthem Midwest



Cardiac Rehabilitation (Midwest Medical Review & Utilization Management Criteria)

Anthem West Region



Cardiac Rehabilitation, Outpatient

Anthem Southeast


Memo 1111

Cardiac Rehabilitation

Anthem CT



Cardiac Rehabilitation Benefit Detail

Anthem ME



Cardiac Rehabilitation Benefit Detail

WellPoint Health Networks, Inc.



Cardiac Rehabilitation



Clinical Guideline

Cardiac Rehabilitation