MultiCare research gives hope to heart failure patients
Starting a new exercise routine is difficult for anyone, but imagine having a heart condition that makes it even harder to get going.
There’s hope for heart failure patients who have trouble with daily activities and exercise, thanks to a pilot study performed jointly by the Institute for Research and Innovation at MultiCare and the Pulse Heart Institute.
The study examined 16 patients with diastolic heart failure age 55 and older who participated in an exercise program for nine weeks.
“Some patients could only do a few minutes of walking, and by the end [of the study] they could do up to 30 total,” says Glenn Bean, associate investigator of the study. “Exercise may be the best thing for these patients right now.”
For example, he says, one elderly patient who walked with a cane could only move a few feet before becoming short of breath. After the study, the patient could tolerate walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes.
The results of the study, “Exercise Training Effect in Patients with Diastolic Heart Failure,” show that for these patients, an exercise program can improve their quality of life and tolerance for physical activity. Even depression improved.
The study’s exercise program involved cardio pulmonary exercise testing using a piece of equipment called a metabolic cart, which measures oxygen uptake fitness and carbon dioxide production.
Though it was a small study, it will pave the way for further research, Bean says.
“Our goal was for this to be a stepping stone for a bigger study,” he says.
There are two types of heart failure: systolic and diastolic. This study focused on patients suffering from diastolic heart failure, meaning the blood vessels get stiffer and don’t pump as well.
Systolic heart failure patients can receive cardiac rehabilitation services covered under Medicare, but not enough research existed on diastolic heart failure patients to show that exercise helps them as well — so they aren’t eligible to receive the same kind of rehab under Medicare.
But it turns out diastolic heart failure is increasing in our country, Bean says.
“This kind of heart failure is growing the fastest,” he says. “Baby boomers getting older is a contributing factor.”
Because of the study, MultiCare was able to purchase a metabolic cart for regular use with patients, such as those awaiting ventricular assist devices (VADs).
“That was something unique to come out of this that we didn’t expect,” Bean says.
What’s next? A bigger study with a randomized group of participants will help substantiate the results, Bean says. It would also allow for a control group to compare results against.
Attend Research Day to learn more
You can learn more about this study and have the opportunity to ask questions of associate investigator Glenn Bean by attending Research Day, where this and several other MultiCare studies will be presented.Attend Research Day this Friday, Dec. 8, 2017, starting at 8am. Drop by anytime or join us online.
About The Author
Roxanne Cooke is our senior content editor and manages Vitals, Kite Strings and Bring Happy Back, plus special projects such as 24 Hours at Tacoma General Hospital and The Healthy Futures Project. She tells stories in words, photos and video. You can reach her at [email protected]More stories by this author