Moderate exercise may treat congestive heart failure, study finds

GLENDALE, Calif. (KABC) -- Exercise amounting to less than an hour a day has been found to strengthen the heart, according to a new study from Norway.

Living a comfortable sedentary lifestyle, Joe Selph felt heartburn and jaw pain 15 months ago but ignored the symptoms. During a routine checkup, his doctor was stunned to find he had suffered a severe heart attack.

"(My) blood pressure went really low and my heart rate went really high, and normally that results in death," Selph said.

Those with congestive heart failure have hearts unable to adequately supply blood and oxygen to their body. It was primarily treated with drugs and defibrillators, but new research is changing doctor's minds.

"Patients who did moderate continuous exercise actually have shrinkage of their dilated hearts," said Dr. Lawrence O'Connor, an interventional cardiologist.

A Norwegian study found doing 3,000 steps in 30 minutes strengthened the hearts of patients. However, O'Connor said someone with heart failure should start slow with five or six minutes a day.

"That study also showed that high-intensity interval training had no advantage over just moderate exercise," O'Connor noted.

He believes the research may lead to more heart failure patients being enrolled into rehab programs.
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