Purpose: Exercise training as an add-on to medical therapy has been shown to improve exercise capacity, quality of life, and possibly prognosis in patients with pulmonary hypertension (PH). The purpose of this study was to analyze the impact of exercise training on healthcare costs in PH.
Methods: Estimated healthcare costs have been compared between patients with severe PH under optimized medical therapy only (control group) versus patients who received exercise training as an add-on to medical therapy (training group). Cost-analysis included a cost-estimation model of costs for baseline and follow-up visits and all PH-related healthcare events that occurred within the follow-up period. Time to clinical worsening and survival were assessed by clinical records, phone, and/or control visits.
Results: At baseline, the training (n = 58) and control group (n = 48) did not differ in age, gender, WHO-functional class, 6-min walking distance, hemodynamic parameters, or PH-targeted medication. During a follow-up of 24 ± 12 months, the training group had significantly better survival rates at 1 and 3 years and less worsening events (death, lung transplantation, hospitalization due to PH, new PAH-targeted medication) than the control group (15 vs. 25 events, p < 0.05), which also led to lower estimated healthcare costs of 657<euro> within a period of 2 years.
Conclusions: This is the first study to investigate the cost-effectiveness of exercise training in PH. Due to less worsening events within 2 years, healthcare costs were lower in patients performing exercise training as add-on to medical therapy than in patients with medical treatment only. Further prospective, randomized studies are needed to confirm these findings.