Researchers Report Significant Benefits of Exercise Training in Pulmonary Hypertension Patients

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A team led by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center recently published in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure that patients with pulmonary hypertension can benefit from exercise training. The study is entitled “Efficacy and Safety of Exercise Training in Chronic Pulmonary Hypertension: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

Pulmonary hypertension is a life-threatening condition characterized by the increase of blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries that supply blood to the lungs, leading to the gradual occlusion of pulmonary vessels, increased pulmonary vascular resistance and inflammation. Pulmonary hypertension can cause difficulties in breathing, right-sided heart failure and eventually death. It is estimated that the condition affects 15 to 50 individuals per million people, and patients have a poor prognosis.

Exercise training in patients with cardiorespiratory conditions, including heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), has been shown to improve patients’ physical capacity, cardiorespiratory fitness and quality of life. However, the impact of exercise training in the management of pulmonary hypertension is not well established. In the study, researchers evaluated the safety and efficacy of exercise training in pulmonary hypertension patients.

Researchers conducted a meta-analysis on 16 intervention studies focused on pulmonary hypertension patients and the practice of exercise training. In total, 434 individuals were evaluated. The primary outcome considered was a change in the six-minute walk distance (6MWD). The median follow-up of the studies assessed was of 15 weeks.

The team found that exercise training was associated with a significant improvement in 6MWD in patients with pulmonary hypertension. In addition, an improvement in resting pulmonary arterial systolic pressure, peak exercise heart rate and overall quality of life was also reported. The research team reported that exercise training was found to be well-tolerated by pulmonary hypertension patients, revealing it to be a safe and effective means of significantly improving patients’ pulmonary arterial pressure, exercise capacity and overall quality of life.

“Taken together, these findings suggest that exercise training could be used as a safe and effective adjunctive treatment strategy among stable and well-compensated patients with chronic pulmonary hypertension,” concluded the research team according to a news release.

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Patrícia holds her PhD in Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases from the Leiden University Medical Center in Leiden, The Netherlands. She has studied Applied Biology at Universidade do Minho and was a postdoctoral research fellow at Instituto de Medicina Molecular in Lisbon, Portugal. Her work has been focused on molecular genetic traits of infectious agents such as viruses and parasites.
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