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Gains Against Heart Failure Reported
Date:11/11/2008

Exercise, medications prove worth against the condition, doctors say

TUESDAY, Nov. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers are reporting new ways to use exercise and medications to manage and improve the lives of people with heart failure, a condition that affects more than 5 million Americans.

One study found a small, 7 percent reduction in death or hospitalization rates from any cause, as well as a reduction in cardiovascular mortality and heart failure hospitalizations, among heart-failure patients who followed a specific exercise regimen.

"This is the largest and most comprehensive study of exercise training in patients with heart failure," said study lead author Dr. Christopher O'Connor, director of the Duke University Heart Failure Program in Durham, N.C. "It supports a structured exercise training program for patients with reduced left ventricular function and heart failure symptoms, in addition to evidence-based therapy."

O'Connor spoke along with authors of other studies at a Tuesday news conference at the American Heart Association's annual scientific sessions, in New Orleans.

Half the patients in O'Connor's study were randomly selected to receive standard medical therapy plus advice on how to exercise. The other half -- the "intervention arm" -- received supervised exercise training before a transition to home-based exercise, usually a treadmill. The goal was to work up to 40 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise at home five times a week for two-and-a-half years. The second group also received follow-up phone calls monitoring exercise progress.

The next goal is to figure out what sort of exercise is most beneficial and how to get people, not just heart-failure patients, to adhere regularly to an exercise program, Dr. Philip Poole-Wilson of Imperial College London and the British Heart Foundation, said at the news conference.

"The study also showed the exercise was safe, but
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