Despite concerns, exercise training appears safe in patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, according to a study presented at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session in Washington, DC.
Also published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, this study looked at the safety and efficacy of exercise training in patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, often referred to as HCM, occurs when the heart muscle thickens and reduces or blocks blood flow out of the heart. It’s the most common type of genetic heart disease and affects as many as 1 in 200 adults. Since this condition increases risk for sudden cardiac death, many providers discourage exercise in certain patients with HCM. However, evidence is sparse and whether exercise is safe and beneficial in patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy remains unclear.
To learn more, researchers conducted the RESET-HCM trial (Randomized Exploratory Study of Exercise Training in Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy), which included 136 adults with the condition. The study was conducted at Stanford University Medical Center and the University of Michigan Health System.
For four months, half of participants were randomly assigned to a moderate-intensity exercise training program, while the other half maintained normal activity. The home-based exercise program was tailored for each participant and included activities like walking, jogging, swimming, cycling and elliptical use.
After tracking participants’ health and fitness during the course of the study, researchers found that the exercise training program was associated with greater improvements in exercise capacity than patients with usual activity. Researchers also noted that the exercise program was associated with improvements in physical functioning and quality of life. Perhaps most importantly, the exercise program did not increase risk for complications such as irregular heartbeats, sudden cardiac arrest or death.
Based on findings, authors note that tailored exercise programs may be safe and beneficial for many patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The implications are important, as many patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are currently discouraged from exercising. However, authors also note that the study involved only moderate-intensity activities and included mostly low-risk patients. Therefore, additional research is needed to assess the safety of different forms of exercise in higher risk patients with cardiomyopathy.