Posted on Oct 14, 2019, 6 p.m.
Exercise has been well documented to be great for cardiac health, but those that are older tend to be forgotten about when it comes to rehab programs, and now a recent study has revealed that this population has the most to gain.
Within America heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women, being responsible for 1 in 4 deaths; 610,000 Americans die from heart disease every year, and 735,000 experience a heart attack.
Those over the age of 65 are more likely to have heart disease because aging changes the heart, and according to the National Institute of Aging heart disease is a significant cause of disability that affects the ability of millions of seniors to be active and have a good quality life.
A recent study published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology has confirmed that exercise is of benefit for physical ability and mental health regardless of age, and shows that seniors gain the most psychological and physical benefits from rehab program, yet they unfortunately receive the least representation.
Regular exercise helps to ease stress, boost morale, slow the heart, lower blood pressure, improve oxygen efficiency, lower body weight, promote a quicker recovery, and sometimes reduce the need for medications. The older a person is the greater risks for complications and the quicker they will lose physical condition after experiencing a cardiac event, which is why they have more to gain from physical activity.
"Aging is associated with several factors, such as increased inflammation or oxidative stress, [which] predispose people to cardiovascular diseases. As a result, elderly patients are usually less fit than their younger counterparts, and deconditioning is accelerated once cardiovascular disease is established," write the researchers from the Faculty of Sports Sciences at the University of Burgundy Franche-Comte.
This study compared responses of 733 young and older people to cardiac rehabilitation programs, focussing on physical and psychological benefits of exercise on those aged 65+ who received a referral to a 25 session cardiac rehab program over close to a 3 year period.
Participants were divided into 3 groups according to age: those under the age of 65, 65-79, and those aged 80 and older. All participants were evaluated physically and psychologically for issues such as depression and anxiety. All of the participants improved within weeks in physical ability and psychologically, and those with the greatest physical impairments benefited the most, particularly for those over the age of 65 who were experiencing symptoms of depression.
"These improvements will surely have a great positive impact on patients' independence and quality of life and might help both clinicians and patients to realize how beneficial exercise rehabilitation can be,” said Lead investigator Gaëlle Deley, Ph.D.
Findings are hoped to encourage clinicians to see the benefits of referring older patients to rehabilitation programs and strongly encourage them to participate.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.