In a new study, researchers found regular exercise is highly beneficial for all patients with heart disease regardless of age.
Their results showed that the patients who benefited most from cardiac rehabilitation were those who started out with the greatest physical impairment.
The research was conducted by a team from the University of Burgundy Franche-Comté, Dijon, France.
Elderly patients are at a higher risk for complications and physical problems after a heart attack, yet older patients are largely underrepresented in rehabilitation programs.
Previous studies have shown that this might be due to a lack of referral and encouragement to attend cardiac rehabilitation in older patients.
Several studies have looked at the effects of cardiac rehabilitation in older adults.
However, these data often focus on patients above the age of 65 with no distinction between old and very old patients and examine either physical or psychological outcomes but not both.
In the study, the team examined 773 patients from the Clinique Les Rosiers, Dijon, France between January 2015 and September 2017.
They were divided into three subgroups: less than 65 years old; between 65 and 80 years old; and 80 years or older.
All participants received cardiac rehabilitation. The team found following the intervention, all patients experienced improvements.
A few weeks of exercise training not only improved exercise capacity but also decreased anxiety and depression. Patients with the greatest physical impairments at baseline benefited the most from exercise.
In addition, patients younger than 65 who were very anxious before rehabilitation benefited the most from exercise training. A similar result was found for depressed patients older than 65.
The team says these improvements will have a great positive impact on patients’ independence and quality of life and might help both doctors. and patients to realize how beneficial exercise rehabilitation can be to their heart health.
The lead author of the study is Gaëlle Deley, Ph.D., INSERM UMR1093—CAPS, Faculty of Sports Sciences.
The study is published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.
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