Chronic heart failure (CHF) limits exercise capacity which influences physical fitness and health-related quality of life (HRQoL).
The aim was to determine the effects on physical capacity and HRQoL of an exercise programme in elderly patients with CHF in primary care.
An exercise intervention was conducted as a prospective, longitudinal and controlled clinical study in primary care in elderly patients with CHF. Endurance exercise and resistance training were conducted as group-training at the primary care centre and as home training. Follow-up on physical capacity and HRQoL was done at 3, 6 and 12months.
Exercise significantly improved muscle endurance in the intervention group (n=29, mean age 76.2years) compared to the control group (n=31, mean age 74.4years) at all follow-ups except for shoulder flexion right at 12months (shoulder abduction p=0.006, p=0.048, p=0.029; shoulder flexion right p=0.002, p=0.032, p=0.585; shoulder flexion left p=0.000, p=0.046, p=0.004). Six minute walk test improved in the intervention group at 3months (p=0.013) compared to the control group. HRQoL measured by EQ5D-VAS significantly improved in the intervention group at 3 and 12months (p=0.016 and p=0.034) and SF-36, general health (p=0.048) and physical component scale (p=0.026) significantly improved at 3months compared to the control group.
This study shows that exercise conducted in groups in primary care and in the patients' homes could be used in elderly patients with CHF. The combination of endurance exercise and resistance training has positive effects on physical capacity. However, the minor effects in HRQoL need further verification in a study with a larger study population.