Doctors are usually wary of advising patients with pulmonary hypertension to exercise for fear
that it may put too much extra strain on the heart. However, a new review suggests patients with the
condition can benefit safely from exercise and improve their quality of life.
The new review suggests that patients with pulmonary hypertension can reduce their blood pressure through exercise without compromising their safety.
Pulmonary hypertension is where there is high blood pressure in the arteries between the heart and
the lungs. People with the condition find it hard to breathe, get tired easily and have dizzy
In the US, estimates suggest pulmonary hypertension affects around 10-15 people per million of the
population. Left untreated, the condition can lead to heart failure.
Cardiologists from the University of Texas
Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, report in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure how they pooled and analyzed data on over 400 participants
taking part in different studies.
The analysis shows that exercise training can reduce blood pressure in the arteries affected
by pulmonary hypertension and increase exercise tolerance without compromising safety.
Senior author Jarett Berry, associate professor of internal medicine and clinical sciences, says
their findings suggest the traditional skepticism of doctors about suggesting exercise for patients
with pulmonary hypertension may be misplaced.
“More importantly, exercise had a positive effect on
several measures of heart function as well as overall quality of life,” he adds.
The team reviewed 16 studies covering a total of 434 participants with pulmonary hypertension. The
pooled analysis found exercise training was linked to a significant improvement in 6-minute walking
distance, peak oxygen uptake, arterial blood pressure, peak exercise rate and quality of life
Study authors recommend patients discuss exercise with their doctors
The authors also note that “exercise training was well tolerated with a low dropout rate and no
major adverse events related to exercise training,” and conclude:
“Exercise training in patients with pulmonary hypertension appears safe and is
associated with a significant improvement in exercise capacity, pulmonary arterial pressure and quality
However, the authors are not suggesting people with pulmonary hypertension should now start vigorous
cycling or jogging.
Many of the studies they reviewed looked at the effects of lower levels of exercise
than that normally prescribed for patients with heart failure. In addition, many of the programs involved
The team recommends pulmonary hypertension patients talk to their doctor before embarking on an
Meanwhile, Medical News Today has learned that pulmonary
hypertension is a growing problem in US children, with national hospital charges rising from
millions to billions of dollars between 1997 and 2012. The condition used to be most common in children
with congenital heart disease, but figures show the majority of those hospitalized in 2012 did not have
congenital heart diseases.
Written by Catharine Paddock PhD
Copyright: Medical News Today
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