Objective: To assess the physiological and psychosocial effects of exercise training in chronic heart failure.
Subjects/patients: Twenty-six men with heart failure (New York Heart Association functional classes II and III) aged 52.5 (SD 9.8) years, were studied.
Methods: The subjects were randomized either to rehabilitation group (Group A: 16 patients), participating in a 6-month exercise training program, or to control group (Group B: 10 patients). A psychosocial assessment, which included affective (Beck Depression Inventory and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale), quality of life (Quality of Life Index, Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire and the Scale of Life Satisfaction) and personality (Eysenck Personality Questionnaire) parameters, was performed at the beginning and the end of the study.
Results: After training VO2 peak increased by 36% and exercise time by 35%, p < 0.05. A significant decrease in anxiety and depression was also observed. Moreover, trained patients demonstrated a significant improvement in quality of life. No significant correlations were found between deltaVO2 peak and all psychosocial parameter gains. However, the more depressed patients showed the largest physiological responses.
Conclusion: An exercise rehabilitation program in patients with chronic heart failure is useful for improving their work capacity and psychosocial status. Improvements in psychological status seem to be independent of the aerobic gains.