How important is excercise to you as a Heart Failure patient?
Before we talk to you about this really important article it is important that you get the go ahead from a clinician before you start any exercise and especially marathon running!!
People with heart failure who are also depressed may benefit from regular, moderate exercise, a new study suggests. Researchers found patients who exercised an hour and a half to two hours per week had slightly lower depression scores, which in turn were tied to a reduced risk of re-hospitalisations and deaths related to heart problems.
Still, the effects of exercise were “modest,” researchers said. “We know that in people who have existing heart disease, including heart failure, that if they have depression on top of it, it tends to make matters worse,” said Kenneth Freedland, a psychiatrist from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis who wasn’t involved in the new study.
“Exercise seems to be helpful, but by itself, it’s probably not a sufficient treatment for clinical depression in somebody with heart failure,” Still, Freeland added, “anything that can make a dent in (depression) is a good thing.”
The new findings are based on a secondary analysis of a study looking at the effects of exercise on long-term health risks in people with heart failure, which occurs when the heart can’t pump enough blood to the rest of the body.
Close to six million people in the U.S. and 1 million people in the UK have heart failure. Moderate exercise is generally considered safe in people with heart failure, as long as they have been first cleared by their doctor.
In 2003 through 2007, researchers randomly assigned 2,300 people with heart failure to a supervised and at-home exercise program or to their usual treatment. They asked participants about depression symptoms at the start of the study and tracked both those symptoms and hospitalizations and deaths over time.
Participants in the exercise group had three 30-minute workout sessions per week for three months, then were given a treadmill or stationary bike to continue exercising at home for another nine months.
About 28% of patients were clinically depressed at the start of the study, based on a questionnaire covering 21 different symptoms. Depression scores in general — and especially in people with a depression diagnosis — tended to drop with exercise. But the disparity between exercisers and non-exercisers was small, equal to participants scoring similarly on 20 out of 21 symptoms and exercisers getting a “mild” score on one symptom where the usual care group got a “moderate” or “severe” score.
“Most of the patients were not depressed,” said lead researcher James Blumenthal, a clinical psychologist at Duke University Medical Center in Durham. “To go from being not depressed to a little bit more not depressed may not be that clinically meaningful.”