Pulmonary hypertension is a type of high blood pressure that affects the lungs and heart, causing breathing problems, fatigue and dizziness. Left untreated, it can lead to heart failure, according to background information from the study.
“Clinicians have traditionally been skeptical about prescribing exercise for patients with chronic pulmonary hypertension due to concerns that training might put further strain on the heart,” said study senior author Dr. Jarett Berry. He is an associate professor of internal medicine and clinical sciences at University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
“Our analysis found those concerns may be misplaced. More importantly, exercise had a positive effect on several measures of heart function as well as overall quality of life,” Berry said in a university news release.
UT researchers analyzed studies that included more than 400 people with pulmonary hypertension. Their review found that exercise is safe and can reduce pressure in the arteries and boost patients’ ability to exercise.
However, people with pulmonary hypertension should not begin an exercise program without first consulting their doctor, Berry said.
He noted that most patients in the analysis were in supervised exercise programs that had lower levels of intensity than those typically prescribed for heart failure patients.
The findings were published recently in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure.