(NaturalNews) Heart failure patients were once advised not to exercise, in view of the potential risk that their weakened hearts would not be able to withstand the exertions of physical activity. But someone also once said, "if you rest, you rust". And a recent study which was funded by the United States government has shown that a certain amount of exercise, contrary to previous belief, actually benefits heart failure patients.
Details of Study
The study, which was discussed at the American Heart Association's annual meeting recently held in New Orleans, looked at 2,331 recovering heart patients. For a 36-week period, half of the study subjects followed a stipulated exercise regime. The aim of the program was for these patients to carry out 40 minutes of moderate exercise five times every week. They were given exercise bicycles or treadmills to use at home.
On the other hand, the other half of the study subjects were advised about the benefits of carrying out half an hour of physical activity most days of the week, but were not explicitly asked or arranged to exercise.
Findings of Study
Just three months from the commencement of the study, only slightly more than 50% of the group which was supposed to exercise was still doing so regularly. This proportion continued to decline with time, and by the time it was a year after the start of the study, only a quarter of the group was still following the plan of exercising five times per week.
The results of the study defied long-held opinions. It found that exercising for half an hour three times each week did not raise the risk of erratic rhythms, heart attack, chest pain or fractures. That puts to bed the issue of exercise being unsafe for these patients, something which had never been proven by research but had always been assumed to be true for these persons.
In fact, there were tangible health benefits experienced by the exercising group, too. Those who exercised, compared to the other group, had a lower likelihood of being hospitalized for heart failure. Their mortality rate from cardiac causes was also lower.
Now, with these findings, some attitudes will perhaps change.
"This was a compelling study. It wasn't just did it keep you out of the hospital, but it saved lives. You can say to somebody: You can do this without taking another pill that may cost money and give you side effects. Exercise is safe and has been shown to reduce mortality," said Muriel Jessup from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Health.
The Bottom Line
Not only can heart failure cause tiredness and physical limitations, it is often fatal, too. Some 5 million Americans are said to get some form of heart failure every year. Yet another startling statistic in the long list of chronic conditions plaguing the US.
In fact, heart disease is the leading killer disease in the West. And, the fact is, heart failure and many forms of cardiovascular conditions have their roots in dietary and lifestyle habits.
But, when it comes to heart conditions, it seems many, both physicians and patients alike, may be tempted to take the so-called safer option. "Take it easy, have a good rest" sure seems a lot more sensible than telling someone recovering from heart failure to "put on your jogging gear and go for a run".
Yet, the findings of the said study have shown those who do notexercise were more likely to be hospitalized for another heart failure, and also more likely to die from cardiac causes. These imply that the danger in fact lies in inactivity, and that is something which all heart patients will want to take note of.