Physical Function Goals for Elderly Patients With CVD

HealthDay News — Cardiac rehabilitation and the importance of physical function should be emphasized among older adults with cardiovascular disease, according to an American Heart Association scientific statement published online in Circulation.

Daniel E. Forman, MD, from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and colleagues address the importance of functional capacity both for the perspective it provides on aggregate health and as a goal of care among older adults with cardiovascular disease.

The researchers note that optimal management of these patients requires an understanding of the importance and complexities of measuring and modifying functional capacity. In older adults, the consequences of functional impairment include increased morbidity and mortality, and reduced ability to perform activities of daily living, remain independent, and delay disability. Clinical management of older patients with cardiovascular disease should include periodic assessment of function. Exercise intervention programs should be designed to increase maximal functional capacity and to target the capacity to perform activities of daily living, maintain independence, and optimize quality of life. Older adults respond to exercise training programs, and these should be designed specifically for older patients. Current standards of evidence-based medications often manifest greater functional risks than benefits.

“When treating cardiac patients in their 70s, 80s, and 90s, health care providers often stress medications and procedures without considering the importance of getting patients back on their feet, which is exactly what cardiac rehabilitation programs are designed to do,” Forman said in a statement.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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Forman DE, Arena R, Boxer R, et al; on behalf of the American Heart Association Council on Clinical Cardiology, Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing, Council on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research, and Stroke Council. Prioritizing functional capacity as a principal end point for therapies oriented to older adults with cardiovascular disease [published online March 23, 2017]. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000483