FLORENCE, ITALY – Exercise training boosts the longevity of patients with heart failure.
Although results from several prior randomized, controlled trials had already shown a mortality benefit from exercise training for heart failure patients, these findings have now been confirmed by a meta-analysis that used the original, individual patient raw data collected in 20 separate randomized, controlled trials that together involved more than 4,000 patients. The results showed that an exercise-training intervention run for at least 3 weeks produced a statistically significant, relative reduction in all-cause mortality of 18%, compared with similar patients who had been randomized to usual care without an exercise program, Oriana Ciani, Ph.D., reported at a meeting held by the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology.
The individual patient data meta-analysis using results from randomized, controlled trials also showed a statistically significant 11% relative reduction in the incidence of all-cause hospitalization in heart failure patients during at least 6 months’ follow-up of exercise programs that lasted for at least 3 weeks, said Dr. Ciani, a health technology researcher at the University of Exeter (England).
Her analysis also showed no suggestion of heterogeneity for each of these two beneficial effects from exercise programs, regardless of patients’ age, sex, or baseline levels of left ventricular ejection fraction, heart failure etiology, functional status, or exercise capacity. “No evidence was found to support a differential treatment effect from exercise-based intervention across patient subgroups,” she said.
The Exercise Training for Chronic Heart Failure (ExTraMATCH II) meta-analysis used data collected in randomized trials published through 2014 that involved at least 50 patients, used an exercise intervention for at least 3 weeks, and had follow-up for at least 6 months. Dr. Ciani and her associates identified 20 studies that included a total of 4,043 heart failure patients who fulfilled these criteria and for whom the researchers from the studies were willing to share individual patient data.
The analysis also showed a median time to all-cause mortality of 605 days among patients who received exercise training and 615 days in the controls, and a median time to first all-cause hospitalization of 229 days with exercise training and 241 days in the controls. The percentage of patients who were hospitalized during follow-up was reduced by an absolute 3.8% for those in the exercise group, compared with the controls.
Although the type of exercise intervention used varied among the 20 studies, most involved aerobic training, and some also used resistance training, Dr. Ciani said. She said she plans additional analyses of the data she has collected to examine the impact of exercise in heart failure patients on cardiovascular mortality, heart failure hospitalization, and a combined endpoint of all-cause death and all-cause hospitalization.
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