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Exercise Might Benefit Some With Heart Failure
Date:4/7/2009

Improvement was modest, but activity is safe and should be urged, expert says,,

TUESDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- A regular program of moderate exercise will not harm people with heart failure and probably will benefit some of them, a new study has found.

That admittedly tepid conclusion comes from a major government-funded trial that enrolled 2,331 people with heart failure at 82 centers in the United States, Canada and France.

Some were started on a 36-session training program and advised to have regular sessions of aerobic-type exercise, such as walking on a treadmill for 25 or 30 minutes, five times a week. Others were told to stick to a usual-care regimen, which included a passing reference to exercise.

The hope was that regular exercise would reduce the incidence of death and hospitalization caused by heart failure, the progressive loss of the heart's ability to pump blood. Some 5 million Americans have been diagnosed with heart failure, and it is a leading cause of cardiac death and hospitalization.

After an average follow-up of 30 months, "our primary or first analysis did show a very modest reduction in the primary endpoints, but it did not achieve the nominal level of statistical significance," said Dr. Christopher M. O'Connor, professor of medicine at Duke University, director of the Duke Heart Center and lead author of a report on the trial in the Journal of the American Medical Association..

The incidence of death or cardiac hospitalization was 58 percent in the usual care group and 55 percent in the exercise group. There was a slightly lower incidence of deaths in the exercise group than among the others: 16 percent versus 17 percent.

"What you want is a large reduction and a highly significant result," O'Connor said. So the researchers decided to take a closer look at the data, adjusting for some apparently esoteric factors that O'Connor described as "highly
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