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Exercise is Safe, Improves Outcomes for Heart Failure Patients
Date:11/11/2008

of cardiovascular mortality and heart failure hospitalization compared to the usual care group.

"Exercise training confers clinical benefits without excess risk for heart failure patients," O'Connor said. "There was a real question in the literature as to whether these high-risk patients could safely attempt exercise training and whether doctors should prescribe exercise training for these patients outside of a highly supervised environment." Most insurance and government health programs refuse to cover exercise training for heart failure patients because of a lack of clear clinical data showing benefits, he added.

The exercise group received a multi-stage, guided exercise program that began with 36 supervised training sessions with a goal of 30 minutes of exercise three times a week. At the 18th session, patients received a treadmill or exercise bicycle for home use, learned how to monitor their heart rate during exercise and were encouraged to try to complete five weekly exercise sessions of similar intensity and 40 minute duration.

The 36 supervised exercise sessions were modeled on the cardiac rehabilitation sessions provided to heart attack survivors, which are usually covered by insurance, O'Connor said. Patients in the usual care group received instructions based on the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association recommendation to perform 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise most days of the week.

An unusually high proportion of the patients received optimal medical care with more than 90 percent of them getting evidenced-based medical therapy for their heart disease. A significant number also had implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), devices that help maintain the heart's rhythm, said David Whellan, M.D., M.H.S., co-principal investigator and associate professor of medicine (cardiology) at Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Penn.

"Thus, the findings from the study need to be inter
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SOURCE American Heart Association
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