The effect of exercise training on sleep quality in heart failure

Suna, Jessica Mary (2013) The effect of exercise training on sleep quality in heart failure. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Background: Heart failure is a serious condition estimated to affect 1.5-2.0% of the Australian population with a point prevalence of approximately 1% in people aged 50-59 years, 10% in people aged 65 years or more and over 50% in people aged 85 years or over (National Heart Foundation of Australian and the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand, 2006). Sleep disturbances are a common complaint of persons with heart failure. Disturbances of sleep can worsen heart failure symptoms, impair independence, reduce quality of life and lead to increased health care utilisation in patients with heart failure. Previous studies have identified exercise as a possible treatment for poor sleep in patients without cardiac disease however there is limited evidence of the effect of this form of treatment in heart failure.

Aim: The primary objective of this study was to examine the effect of a supervised, hospital-based exercise training programme on subjective sleep quality in heart failure patients. Secondary objectives were to examine the association between changes in sleep quality and changes in depression, exercise performance and body mass index.

Methods: The sample for the study was recruited from metropolitan and regional heart failure services across Brisbane, Queensland. Patients with a recent heart failure related hospital admission who met study inclusion criteria were recruited. Participants were screened by specialist heart failure exercise staff at each site to ensure exercise safety prior to study enrolment. Demographic data, medical history, medications, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index score, Geriatric Depression Score, exercise performance (six minute walk test), weight and height were collected at Baseline. Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index score, Geriatric Depression Score, exercise performance and weight were repeated at 3 months.

One hundred and six patients admitted to hospital with heart failure were randomly allocated to a 3-month disease-based management programme of education and self-management support including standard exercise advice (Control) or to the same disease management programme as the Control group with the addition of a tailored physical activity program (Intervention). The intervention consisted of 1 hour of aerobic and resistance exercise twice a week. Programs were designed and supervised by an exercise specialist. The main outcome measure was achievement of a clinically significant change (.3 points) in global Pittsburgh Sleep Quality score.

Results: Intervention group participants reported significantly greater clinical improvement in global sleep quality than Control (p=0.016). These patients also exhibited significant improvements in component sleep disturbance (p=0.004), component sleep quality (p=0.015) and global sleep quality (p=0.032) after 3 months of supervised exercise intervention. Improvements in sleep quality correlated with improvements in depression (p<0.001) and six minute walk distance (p=0.04). When study results were examined categorically, with subjects classified as either "poor" or "good" sleepers, subjects in the Control group were significantly more likely to report "poor" sleep at 3 months (p=0.039) while Intervention participants were likely to report "good" sleep at this time (p=0.08).

Conclusion: Three months of supervised, hospital based, aerobic and resistance exercise training improved subjective sleep quality in patients with heart failure. This is the first randomised controlled trial to examine the role of aerobic and resistance exercise training in the improvement of sleep quality for patients with this disease.

While this study establishes exercise as a therapy for poor sleep quality, further research is needed to investigate the effect of exercise training on objective parameters of sleep in this population.

Impact and interest:

2 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 61340
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Scott, Adam, Stewart, Ian, & Mudge, Alison
Keywords: depression, exercise, heart failure, insomnia, mass, physical activity, resistance training, sleep
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 12 Jul 2013 04:26
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2015 02:54

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