Heart failure patients should aim to increase their exercise levels as it has been shown to improve survival rates. Principal investigator Rod Taylor said, ‘Patients with heart failure should not be scared of exercise damaging them or killing them. The message for heart failure patients is clear. Exercise is good for you, it will make you feel better, and it could potentially make you live longer.”
The researchers analyzed 20 trials involving over 4,000 heart failure patients. Exercise was associated with an 18 percent lower risk of all-cause death and 11 percent lower risk of hospitalization, compared to patients who did not exercise. Benefits of exercise were seen in both men and women.
Heart failure occurs when the heart can no longer pump the blood efficiently to meet the body’s demand. Heart failure affects 5.7 million Americans and symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pains, fatigue, and fluid buildup in the legs.
Exercise may benefit heart failure patients in a number of ways, such as boosting oxygen to the heart, reducing the risk of atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat), and improving circulation.
Taylor explained, “This is about increasing one’s routine physical activity — for example, walking for 20 to 30 minutes three times a week at an intensity that makes you feel a little bit breathless but not necessarily symptomatic. Discuss it with your cardiologist or GP with the belief that it’s going to benefit you.”
“Personalizing interventions and targeting resources is a hot topic in health care. Our research shows that all patients with heart failure should be encouraged to exercise. Policymakers and clinicians should therefore not deny any heart failure patient the chance to participate in exercise rehabilitation on the basis that it will not work for them,” Taylor concluded.
Also, read Bel Marra Health’s article on Heart failure death risk reduced with cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT).