Physical function and exercise training in older patients with heart failure

Nat Rev Cardiol. 2017 Sep;14(9):550-559. doi: 10.1038/nrcardio.2017.70. Epub 2017 May 18.


Heart failure (HF) is a common end point for numerous cardiovascular conditions, including coronary artery disease, valvular disease, and hypertension. HF predominantly affects older individuals (aged ≥70 years), particularly those living in developed countries. The pathophysiological sequelae of HF progression have a substantial negative effect on physical function. Diminished physical function in older patients with HF, which is the result of combined disease-related and age-related effects, has important implications on health. A large body of research spanning several decades has demonstrated the safety and efficacy of regular physical activity in improving outcomes among the HF population, regardless of age, sex, or ethnicity. However, patients with HF, especially those who are older, are less likely to engage in regular exercise training compared with the general population. To improve initiation of regular exercise training and subsequent long-term compliance, there is a need to rethink the dialogue between clinicians and patients. This Review discusses the need to improve physical function and exercise habits in patients with HF, focusing on the older population.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Disease Progression
  • Exercise Therapy* / methods
  • Exercise Therapy* / psychology
  • Heart Failure* / physiopathology
  • Heart Failure* / psychology
  • Heart Failure* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Patient Compliance
  • Physical Fitness* / physiology
  • Physical Fitness* / psychology
  • Quality of Life*
  • Treatment Outcome