(HealthDay News) – For patients with heart failure, exercise training is associated with a modest reduction in depression symptoms, according to a study published in the Aug 1 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

James A Blumenthal, PhD, from Duke University in Durham, NC, and colleagues conducted a multicenter trial in which 2,322 stable patients treated for heart failure were randomized in a 1:1 ratio to receive supervised aerobic exercise (goal of 90min/week for months one to three followed by home exercise with a goal of ≥120min/week for Months four to 12) or education and usual guideline-based heart failure care. Patients completed the Beck Depression Inventory II (BDI-II).

The researchers found that, over a median of 30 months of follow-up, 68% of patients in the usual-care group died or were hospitalized, compared with 66% in the aerobic-exercise group (hazard ratio [HR], 0.89; P=0.03). At study entry the median BDI-II score was 8, with 28% having BDI-II scores of ≥14 (clinically significant). Significantly lower mean BDI-II scores were seen in the aerobic-exercise group compared with the usual-care group at three months (8.95 vs. 9.7; difference P=0.002) and 12 months (8.86 vs. 9.54; difference P=0.01).

“Compared with guideline-based usual care, exercise training resulted in a modest reduction in depressive symptoms, although the clinical significance of this improvement is unknown,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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