Study: Why heart failure patients often get too little exercise

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A number of obstacles prevent heart failure patients from getting enough exercise, a new study has found.

Supervised aerobic workouts benefit people with heart failure. But a lack of social support and barriers -- such as child care -- means that many patients don't get the recommended amount of exercise, researchers found.

They looked at more than 2,200 heart failure patients enrolled in a 36-session supervised exercise program for three months, followed by two years of home exercise.

Participants also answered questions that measured their perception of social support and assessed potential barriers, such as finances and weather, that could interfere with participation in an exercise program.

Those with the most social support averaged 118 minutes of exercise a week after 12 months, compared with an average of 92 minutes for those with the least social support. Those with the fewest barriers averaged 86 minutes a week, compared with 79 minutes for those with the most barriers.

The study was published Nov. 17 in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure.

"Patients, family members, and healthcare providers should work together to find solutions to the barriers preventing a patient from participating in structured exercise programs, because exercise programs can help patients manage their condition," said lead author Lauren Cooper, MD, a fellow in cardiovascular diseases at the Duke University.

Read the full news release.