DALLAS, Sept. 19 -- Appropriate amounts of exercise offer psychological and physical benefits for patients with severe pulmonary hypertension (PH), according to research reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
"It is commonly believed that exercise training may be dangerous for PH patients, because increasing pressure on the pulmonary arteries may worsen right-sided heart failure," said Ekkehard Grnig, M.D., senior author of the study and associate professor at University Hospital Heidelberg in Heidelberg, Germany. "Patients should exercise, but only in certain amounts, in addition to taking medicine. All training should be started with supervision in a hospital."
Pulmonary hypertension is an abnormal "high blood pressure" in the blood vessels that supply the lungs. It is a life-threatening disease that restricts physical capacity, lowers quality of life and has a poor prognosis because the heart's upper right chamber loses its ability to pump blood to the lungs.
According to researchers, although treatment of PH is advancing, adverse effects occur with the medications that treat it. Most patients continue to have symptoms, reduced physical abilities and reduced quality of life despite excellent medical treatment. Reduced exercise ability in PH is associated with depression and anxiety disorders, Grnig said.
Researchers evaluated the effects of exercise and respiratory training in 30 patients (21 female), average age 50, with severe chronic PH who were stable for at least three months. Patients were randomly assigned to either a control group or a primary training group and evaluated before the study, at week three and at week 15.
The control group received a common rehabilitation program, while the primary training group participated in an additional low-dose exercise program, supervised by physicians and physiotherapists, seven days a week. The daily training consisted of: