Washington: Moderate exercise can ease depression in patients with chronic heart failure, a new study has claimed.
Researchers from Duke University Medical Center found that exercise for chronic heart failure patients improved mental and cardio-vascular health.
"Exercise has been shown to be safe for people with heart disease, and it also improves depression. These data show the combined benefits of exercise for this population include improved mental health and improved cardio-vascular health," James A Blumenthal, lead author of the study said in a statement.
The researchers enrolled 2,322 patients at 82 medical centres in the United States, Canada and France. Patients were randomly assigned to receive usual care, including necessary medications and a recommendation to exercise, or the usual care plus a supervised exercise regimen three times a week for 30 minutes.
After three months, the exercise group transitioned to exercising at home for another nine months without supervision.
All patients underwent an initial physical stress test and filled out a questionnaire that measured depressive symptoms such as feelings of sadness, irritability, hopelessness and disturbed sleep. The tests were repeated every three months for the first year.
Patients were asked to make quarterly follow-up clinic visits for the second year of the study, and then annual visits through year four of the trial.
The patients who participated in treadmill or stationary bike workouts showed greater improvement of their cardio-pulmonary function, as measured by peak oxygen consumption and longer duration of exercise, than patients who received usual care. Small improvements accrued at both three months and 12 months.
Depression scores were also better for participants in the exercise group compared to those who received standard care.
The cardiac patients who exercised saw their average depression scores drop 1.75 points in the first three months, with lower scores signifying a healthier outlook. Patients in the usual care group dropped almost 1 point. Similar results were maintained throughout the 12-month assessment.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.