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Exercise-based rehabilitation for heart failure


Taylor, R.S., et al

Subject Keywords: Exercise-based rehabilitation, Mortality, Hospital admissions, Morbidity. Quality of life
Set: Chronic Conditions
Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)
Type: Article
Region: International (other)


People with heart failure experience marked reductions in their exercise capacity, which has detrimental effects on their activities of daily living, health-related quality of life and ultimately their hospital admission rate and mortality.

Study characteristics

We searched the scientific literature for randomised controlled trials (experiments in which two or more interventions, possibly including a control intervention or no intervention, are compared by being randomly allocated to participants) looking at the effectiveness of exercise-based treatments compared with no exercise on heart failure in adults over 18 years of age. The inclusion criteria of this updated review were extended to consider not only HF due to reduced ejection fraction (HFREF or 'systolic HF') (ejection fraction is a measure of how well your heart is pumping), but also HF due to preserved ejection fraction (HFPEF or 'diastolic HF'). The search is current to January 2013.

Key results

We found 33 RCTs that included 4740 participants. The findings of this update are consistent with the previous (2010) version of this Cochrane review and show important benefits of exercise-based rehabilitation that include a reduction in the risk of hospital admissions due to HF and improvements in health-related quality of life compared with not undertaking exercise. There was a high level of variation across studies in health-related quality of life outcome. While the majority of evidence was for exercise-based rehabilitation in people with HFREF, this update did identify a broader evidence base that included higher risk (New York Heart Association class IV) and older people, people with HFPEF and more programmes conducted in a home-based setting. We found no evidence to suggest that exercise training programmes cause harm in terms of an increase in the risk of death in either the short or longer term. A small body of economic evidence was identified indicating exercise-based rehabilitation to be cost-effective. Further evidence is needed to understand the effect of exercise training in people with HFPEF better and the costs and effects of exclusively home-based exercise rehabilitation programmes.



Rights: © The Cochrane Collaboration
Suggested citation:

Taylor, R.S., et al. (2014) Exercise-based rehabilitation for heart failure [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 19th August 2018].


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