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Exercise improves quality of life for heart failure patients
Date:11/12/2008

DURHAM, N.C. Heart failure patients who regularly exercise fare better and feel better about their lives than do similar patients who do not work out on a regular basis, say researchers at Duke University Medical Center.

The findings, reported today at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2008, go a long way toward addressing concerns about the value of exercise for the nation's five million patients with heart failure. They also raise important policy questions for the country's Medicare program and other insurers.

"Past studies have sent mixed signals about the merit of exercise for patients with heart failure. The HF-ACTION study (A Controlled Trial Investigating Outcomes Exercise TraiNing) shows that exercise is not only safe for patients, but also helps to improve the quality of their lives, overall," says Kathryn Flynn, PhD, a health services researcher at Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI) and lead author of the study.

HF-ACTION is the largest clinical trial to date examining the value of exercise in the treatment of heart failure. Investigators enrolled 2331 patients with moderate to severe heart failure at 82 sites throughout the U.S., Canada and France from 2003 to 2008.

Funded by a $37 million grant from the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute, researchers randomized participants to receive either standard care or standard care plus an exercise program. The exercise regimen consisted of three months of supervised aerobic training on a bicycle or treadmill, followed by instruction for continued home-based training. Researchers set the exercise goal at five, 40-minute workouts, or 200 minutes of exercise per week. Participants reached about 60 percent of that goal at one year.

Participants had significant heart failure upon entering the study, measured by diminished left ventricular ejection fraction (mean, 25 percent). Ninety-five per cent of the patie
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Contact: Michelle Gailiun
michelle.gailiun@duke.edu
919-724-5343
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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