Cochrane LibraryExerciseHeart Disease

Review: Benefits of exercise in patients with systolic heart failure

In most people, heart failure is due to a reduced ability to pump blood throughout the body (left ventricular systolic dysfunction). The symptoms are similar between left and right heart failure; your doctor can tell the difference.

This Cochrane review focused on the effects of exercise training in patients with systolic heart failure.

First, the details.

  • 19 studies (3,647 adults) comparing exercise training and usual care with a minimum follow-up of 6 months were reviewed.
  • Most patients were male; with New York Heart Association class II–III and a left ventricular ejection fraction of less than 40%.

And, the results.

  • There was no difference between groups in short- (less than 13 months) or longer-term with regard to death due to any cause or overall hospital admissions.
  • Heart failure-related hospitalizations were lower and health-related quality of life improved with exercise therapy.
  • The benefit of cardiac exercise training on total mortality and health-related quality of life was independent of severity of left ventricular dysfunction, type of cardiac rehabilitation, dose of exercise (sessions per week), duration of follow-up, quality of the study, and study publication date.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “Compared with usual care, in selected heart failure patients, exercise training reduces heart failure-related hospitalizations and results in clinically important improvements in health-related quality of life.”

The authors would like to see more research on the effect of exercise training in community-based settings and in more severe heart failure patients, elderly people, and women.

You can read the entire article here.

Ask your doctor about the appropriate amount and types of exercise for your condition.

10/10/10 15:11 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, a complementary and alternative medicine website.