Researchers from the American Heart Association have issued a scientific statement stating that supervised exercise therapy is safe and can improve symptoms in people with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.
Stiffening of the heart caused by HFrEF
Heart failure is a medical condition where the heart cannot pump blood effectively. There are two types: heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF), caused by stiffening of the heart, and heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), where the heart’s pumping ability is unaffected. Patients with HFpEF are treated to reduce symptoms and slow the condition’s progression.
According to Dr. Vandana Sachdev, the chair of the scientific statement writing committee, the incidence of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction is rising due to an aging population and increased risk factors like Type 2 diabetes and obesity. In addition, Sachdev noted that most patients with HFpEF are likely undertreated, making improved management an urgent unmet need.
Presently, Medicare provides reimbursement for cardiac rehabilitation to individuals diagnosed with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF). At the same time, it creates obstacles for those with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF).
Physical exercise enhances the pumping capacity of the heart
According to Sachdev, physical exercise can help enhance the heart’s pumping capacity, reduce stiffness in blood vessels, and boost the performance and energy levels of skeletal muscles. Exercise ability is an autonomous and clinically important factor for patients. Scientific studies indicate that supervised exercise therapy is more effective than most medications in improving the quality of life of those with HFpEF.
The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association released revised recommendations for guided physical activity for people with heart failure in April 2022. The authors have studied the influence of exercise treatment on people with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) in studies published after 2010. The study examined a range of physical activities, including cycling, walking, HIIT, resistance training, and dance, in both clinical and non-clinical contexts.