(NaturalNews) In the past, many heart failure patients have been put on strict bed rest. But such a sedentary existence can be miserable, and it may not be necessary. Exercise can greatly improve a heart failure patient's quality of life, and may even improve heart health, say two articles published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
About 500,000 cases of heart failure are diagnosed in the United States each year. Most heart failure patients share one thing in common: their quality of life is severely decreased. They are frequently hospitalized, often fatigued and can experience shortness of breath during everyday activities like climbing stairs. The risk of premature death in heart failure patients is high.
Researchers from Duke University School of Medicine in North Carolina offer a message of hope to heart failure patients: moderate activity can not only bring back a patient's quality of life, but it can provide direct health benefits as well.
The study is the largest one in people with chronic heart failure. It included 2,331 men and women who were randomly separated in two groups: one which received aerobic exercise training in addition to standard medical care, and one which did not.
Those in the exercise group were supervised during their first 36 aerobic exercise sessions. Patients were then sent home with a treadmill or exercise bike. They were instructed to continue a regular exercise program which included up to 200 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week. The study followed participants for two and a half years.
Kathryn E. Flynn, Ph.D., a health services researcher at Duke Clinical Research Institute and lead author of the study reports: "The average difference was modest, but it happened early. And it persisted over time: 54 percent of the men and women in this group reported clinically meaningful improvements in their health status three months into the study, compared with 29 percent of people in the control group."
Researchers took into account several variables before determining exercise reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by 11 percent in heart failure patients. This number may not be dramatic, but it's a positive outcome nonetheless. These findings may spark a change in the Medicare program, which does not cover exercise therapy for heart failure patients at this time.
After experiencing heart failure, finding ways to enjoy life is more important than ever. Regular exercise is a simple solution that can enhance and perhaps even prolong the lives of heart failure patients.
Elizabeth Walling is a freelance writer specializing in health and family nutrition. She is a strong believer in natural living as a way to improve health and prevent modern disease. She enjoys thinking outside of the box and challenging common myths about health and wellness. You can visit her blog to learn more: www.livingthenourishedlife.com/2009/10/welco...