PH Patients Seen to Have Little Daily Exercise, Leading to Lower Odds of Survival, Study Finds

Iqra Mumal, MSc avatar

by Iqra Mumal, MSc |

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Patients with pulmonary hypertension have little daily exercise, often at levels so low their their odds of survival are reduced, according to researchers.

Their study, “Physical activity levels are low in patients with pulmonary hypertension,” was published in the journal Annals of Translational Medicine.

International guidelines recommend that all adults should have at least two hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate exercise, or at least 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise, to achieve optimal health.

To better understand and effectively promote physical activity across populations, it is important to understand the levels of physical activity in subpopulations.

Specifically, there is very little data available on rates of physical activity in patients with pulmonary hypertension (PH), a disease that is commonly associated with low physical activity due to reduced lung capacity.

Researchers set out to assess the exercise levels in these patients through accelerometry in a 75 Spanish PH patients (mean age of 48) and 107 gender and age-matched controls.

Accelerometers are devices that measure accelerations — a way to assess levels of physical activity. In the study, participants had to wear accelerometers while awake for a minimum of five days and for 10 hours a day.

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Researchers found that the frequency of vigorous physical activity was very low in both the PH group and the control group, with no significant differences.

However, all other accelerometer data was significantly different between patients and controls. PH patients had much lower levels of physical activity and more inactivity time. Also, more people in the PH group failed to meet international guidelines regarding physical activity compared to the control group.

Results showed that physical activity, especially moderate-vigorous exercise, was found to put patients into a better survival or “low-risk” category as determined by results from the six-minute walking distance test (a measure of exercise capacity) and ventilatory equivalent for carbon dioxide (referring to the ratio of the volume of air ventilating the lungs to the volume of carbon dioxide produced).

“In a representative, relatively large cohort of PH patients (accounting for [approximately 15%]  of the total Spanish patient population), less than two-thirds of patients met the minimum recommended level of [physical activity], and not meeting such guidelines was associated with a higher risk profile,” the researchers wrote.

Based on the results, the team concluded that “daily [physical activity] is reduced in patients with PH, often to a level that may decrease their odds of survival.”

The team emphasized that efforts should be made to promote physical activity in these patients.