Washington : Exercises combined with behavioural therapy are likely to improve the outlook of depressed heart patients and their quality of life, says a new study.
Researchers studied 74 depressed heart failure patients whom they divided into four groups. One group received a 12-week, home-based programme of exercise and psychological counselling, a second received psychological counselling alone, a third received exercise alone, and a fourth received usual care.
“By combining exercise with psychological counselling, these depressed patients do better on all parameters compared to the other groups,” said Rebecca Gary, co-author of the study, at Emory University, Atlanta.
“This may be the best method for improving their depression, symptom severity and quality of life,” Gary said.
Participants in the randomised, controlled pilot study were an average age of 66. The majority of patients were Caucasian and 57 percent were women.
All participants were diagnosed with clinical depression, determined by psychiatric tests using DSM-IV criteria and the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression.
The four groups were assessed at four time intervals – baseline, after the 12-week intervention programme, following the three-month telephone follow-up and at six months.
The exercise component was a 12-week, progressive programme with low-to-moderate intensity exercise, involving walking outdoors. Patients were encouraged to walk three times per week for at least 30 minutes.
Patients in the combined programme or exercise-only group received heart rate monitors and were taught how to self-monitor their exertion level, and when to stop exercising. All patients, despite initial symptoms and some being quite debilitated, achieved these goals.
These findings were reported at the American Heart Association’s Ninth Scientific Forum on ‘Quality of Care and Outcomes Research in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke’.