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According to a study conducted by researchers from Duke University, chronic heart failure patients who exercise may experience modest reductions in their depressive symptoms within a year.
The authors of the research said that approximately 5 million people in the United States are suffering from heart failure, and over 500,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. About 40% of these patients will experience depression.
In the study, a total of 2,322 heart failure patients who were being treated in 82 medical centers in the US, Canada, and France rated their depressive symptoms in a questionnaire. They were given scores of 0 to 59, with scores of 14 and above representing clinically-significant depression. The median score was 8, and only 28% of them scored 14 or higher.
Then, some of the participants were asked to perform aerobic exercise for 90 minutes per week from the first to the third month, followed by home exercise for more than 120 minutes a week from the fourth to the twelfth month. The remaining subjects received guideline-based heart failure care and education on the benefits of exercise.
After the third month, the aerobic exercise group had a median depression score of 8.95, while the usual care group had a score of 9.70. At the end of the study, the exercise group’s score dropped to 8.86 and the usual care group’s fell to 9.54.
The results of the study showed that exercise may be as effective in reducing depressive symptoms in heart failure patients as other commonly-used treatment methods, including antidepressant medications.
If you want to know more about the heart healthy benefits of exercise, you can read some of the exercise-related posts in our blog.