ElderlyHeart DiseaseHydrotherapy

Effects of hydrotherapy in heart patients

Regular exercise helps protect the heart. Yet, many elderly patients with heart failure find it difficult to exercise on land.

Researchers from the University of Gothenburg, in Sweden measured the effects of hydrotherapy (training in warm water) on heart function.

First, the details.

  • 18 elderly patients with congestive heart failure were examined using echocardiography on land and in warm water (34 C°).
  • 12 of them completed 8 weeks of a control period followed by 8 weeks of hydrotherapy twice weekly.

And, the results.

  • During acute hydrotherapy, cardiac output increased significantly.
  • Heart rate decreased significantly from 73 to 66 beats per minute.
  • Mean arterial pressure and systemic resistance to blood flow also decreased significantly.
  • There was no improvement in exercise tolerance (stamina) or peak VO2 (oxygen use by the heart)
  • There were no changes in any negative markers of heart function or brain natriuretic peptide (a predictor of worsening disease).
  • Hydrotherapy was well tolerated by all patients.

The bottom line?
In this small study, the main findings were that elderly patients with congestive heart failure were able to tolerate hydrotherapy. There were some benefits in terms of heart pumping action, and no harm was done to the heart.

However, there was no evidence that these weak hearts grew stronger and more efficient during the time studied.

7/9/09 11:41 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.