According to new research published in Circulation: Heart Failure, lack of social support may impact heart failure patients' ability to exercise.
In the HF-ACTION (Heart Failure: A Controlled Trial Investigating Outcomes of Exercise Training) trial, researchers studied 2279 patients who were randomly assigned to receive either usual care or usual care plus a 36-session supervised exercise program. Patients' perceptions were measured using a survey that evaluated 10 potential barriers to exercise (eg, finances, child care, weather).
In the exercise group, those with the highest perceived social support exercised more (average 118 minutes per week) at 12 months compared to those with the lowest perceived social support (average 92 minutes per week). A previous HF-ACTION analysis that studied exercise intensity along with time found that moderate exercise was associated with a decreased risk of death from heart disease or heart failure hospitalization.
"Competing responsibilities and lack of support may prevent patients with heart failure from participating in exercise programs. Assessing a patient's social support system and barriers that may interfere with their exercise program may help medical professionals to customize exercise programs that better fit individual patient needs," said lead author Lauren B. Cooper, MD, of Duke University School of Medicine.
Although supervised aerobic physical activity is a proven therapy for heart failurepatients, lack of social support and practical barriers such as lack of transportation, keep many patients from benefiting from cardiac rehab programs, according to new research in Circulation:Heart Failure, an American Heart Association journal.
“Patients, family members, and healthcare providers should work together to find solutions to the barriers preventing a patient from participating in a structured exercise programs, because exercise programs can help patients manage their condition,” said Lauren B. Cooper, MD, lead author of the study and a fellow in cardiovascular diseases at the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina.