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Regular exercise may boost lung transplant patients' heart health, quality of life

As reported in a previous Stanford Hospital & Clinics story, recent research has shown that exercising as soon as a few weeks after a transplant operation may improve patients' longevity.

Now findings published yesterday in the American Journal of Transplantation offer additional evidence that transplant patients who participate in supervised fitness programs following their discharge from the hospital may improve their quality of life and overall health.

In the small study (subscription required), Belgian researchers randomly assigned patients who had not experienced complications after single or double lung transplants to participate in either a control group or a three-month exercise initiative. Volunteers in the control group took part in daily mobility exercises, such as walking and stair climbing, in a hospital setting for roughly six week. Individuals in the exercise group engaged in 90-minute training sessions three times a week. According to a journal release:

The authors compared daily walking, physical fitness, quality of life and ill health from cardiovascular disease between the two groups. This included monitoring their blood pressure during normal activities over a 24-hour period.

Key findings included:

  • One year after hospital discharge 18 patients remained in the intervention group, with 16 in the control group. Five patients were lost to severe medical complications and one was unwilling to continue.
  • After a year, the patients in the intervention group were walking an average of 85 minutes a day (plus or minus 27 minutes), while the control group was walking an average of 54 minutes a day (plus or minus 30 minutes).
  • Quadriceps muscle force, how far the patients could walk in six minutes and self-reported physical functioning were significantly higher in the patients who exercised.
  • Average 24-hour diastolic and systolic blood pressure was significantly lower in the treated patients.

...The patients who took part in the exercise program engaged in more physical activity in the first year following hospital discharge, which in turn resulted in favorable health outcomes. They achieved better physical fitness against a number of key measures, reported better physical functioning and had lower blood pressure and better cardiovascular health than the patients in the control group.

Previously: A boot camp for recovery and Transplant patients organize a boot camp
Photo by E'Lisa Campbell

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