Combination of Diet and Exercise Offers Benefits in Patients with a Common Type of Heart Failure

January 5, 2016

Research by Dalane W. Kitzman, M.D., professor of cardiology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, has found that diet and exercise can help relieve the main symptoms of a rapidly increasing form of heart failure.

The study is published in the current issue of the Journalof the American Medical Association (JAMA).

 Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFPEF) is a recently recognized disease that reflects how the left ventricle of the heart pumps with each beat. Its primary symptoms are shortness of breath and fatigue from exertion.

HFPEF occurs primarily in older women, and more than 80 percent of patients are overweight or obese. It is the dominant form of heart failure and the most rapidly increasing cardiovascular disorder in this country. There is no medication that has been proven effective in treating HFPEF, which is associated with elevated rates of illness and death and high medical expenditures.

Kitzman’s 20-week study of 100 obese older patients found that their exercise capacity increased significantly with both reduced caloric intake and aerobic exercise training, and that the combination of diet and exercise produced even greater improvement. These measures also correlated with weight loss of up to 10 percent.

“The findings may help to broaden our view of HFPEF as a ‘whole body’ disorder, not one that involves only the heart,” Kitzman said. “Such an approach could open pathways to new treatments.”

This study was supported by research grants R01AG18915, P30AG021332, R01HL093713, and R01AG020583 from the National Institutes of Health. Also supported in part by the Kermit Glenn Phillips II Chair in Cardiovascular Medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine  and the Mortiz Chair in Geriatric Nursing Research in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at The University of Texas at Arlington.

Co-authors of the study are: Peter Brubaker, Ph.D., Timothy Morgan, Ph.D., Gregory Hundley, M.D.,  Barbara J. Nicklas, Ph.D., of Wake Forest Baptist; William E. Kraus, M.D., of Duke University School of Medicine; Joel Eggebeen, M.S., of Emory University School of Medicine; and Mark Haykowsky, Ph.D., of University of Texas at Arlington.



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