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Physical activity a powerful antidote for heart failure

Traditionally, heart failure patients have been treated with a combination of medications and procedures, but as Becky Gary found in a 2011 study funded by the Emory Heart and Vascular Center, physical activity also can be a powerful antidote. Gary, an associate professor in the School of Nursing, and colleagues followed 24 heart failure patients at Emory Healthcare through a home-based exercise program that included aerobic and resistance training. While previous studies have evaluated heart failure patients through endurance testing on a treadmill, their trial is one of the first to use a physical function test to measure upper and lower body strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination. These often are strong indicators of a patient's ability to function in everyday settings.

After assessing their ability to do certain household tasks such as climbing stairs, unloading a clothes dryer, and reaching items on a shelf, Gary found that heart failure patients were dramatically underperforming in even the simplest tasks.

Full Story in Emory Nursing Magazine »

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