Heart Failure, Depression & Exercise

Depressive symptoms in heart failure patients can be reduced with exercise

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Depression is common in chronic heart failure patients. Exercise was found to help moderately reduce depression symptoms in a group of patients.

A recent study followed two groups of chronic heart failure patients, one that exercised and one that did not.

Both groups were evaluated for depression, and the exercise group showed fewer depressive symptoms than the non-exercise group.

"Exercise is good for everyone, go for a walk today!"

James A. Blumenthal, PhD, from Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC, led researchers to investigate the emotional benefits of exercise for chronic heart failure patients.

For the study, 2,322 heart failure patients were evaluated from 82 medical centers in the US, Canada and France from 2003 to 2007.

Heart failure patients were randomly assigned to a control group or an exercise group for 12 months.

The exercise group started out with a goal of 90 minutes of exercise per week for the first three months and then 120 minutes or more for the following four to 12 months.

After 30 months, 68 percent of the control group had died or been hospitalized compared to 66 percent of the exercise group.

Patients were given surveys for their depressive symptoms at three and 12 months.

Patients in the exercise group reported moderately lower depressive symptoms compared to the control group. While moderate isn’t a huge deal, anything that can improve the way chronic heart failure patients feel is a good thing.

A total of 28 percent of the whole group reported significant levels of depression. After three months, the exercise group reported 1.3 percent fewer depressive symptoms than the control group.

After 12 months, the exercise group reported 1.1 percent fewer depressive symptoms than the control group.

In the background information provided by the study, they estimated 5 million people in the US alone have heart failure. And every year, another 500,000 are diagnosed with heart failure.

Authors claimed that depression is common in heart failure patients. As many as 75 percent of heart failure patients report some feelings of depression with 40 percent having clinical levels of depression as a co-existing illness.

This article will be published in August in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Funding for this study was provided by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and various supporting Universities, no competing interests were found.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 29, 2012
Last Updated:
March 28, 2013