Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Exercise may ease depression in heart failure patients
Heart failure can take a heavy psychological toll, with many patients developing symptoms of depression. But a new study suggests that an exercise plan can ease the melancholy, creating improvements in mood that are comparable to the effects seen with medication. For roughly a year, researchers followed more than 2,000 people treated for congestive heart failure at 82 medical centers in the United States, France and Canada. Those who were assigned to a moderate aerobic exercise program - about 90 to 120 minutes a week - saw greater reductions in symptoms of depression than those who were not enrolled in such a program. "I think this shows that for patients who have heart failure, exercise is certainly an excellent treatment," said Dr. James A. Blumenthal, a professor of medical psychology at Duke University Medical Center and the lead author of the study, which was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association. "It's something that most patients can engage in. It results in improved cardiorespiratory fitness, they have more stamina, and now we see that not only do they derive these physical benefits, but they also derive psychological benefits as well."