Background: Most studies of exercise training for heart failure have been conducted on relatively young patients with little comorbidity. Such programmes are unsuitable for the majority of older frail heart failure patients.
Aims: To test the acceptability and tolerability of an outpatient exercise programme in older heart failure patients with comorbid disease.
Methods: 17 patients aged 70 years and over with left ventricular systolic dysfunction attended twice weekly group exercise classes for 12 weeks, focussing on endurance exercise and everyday functional tasks. Outcome measures were proportion of sessions attended; adverse events and reasons for non-attendance; six-minute walk, accelerometry, hospital depression and anxiety score, Guyatt quality of life scale, carer strain and satisfaction scores.
Results: 83% of sessions were attended; 80% of subjects attended at least 80% of allocated sessions. One adverse incident occurred in 324 person-sessions. Encouraging improvements were seen in six minute walk test (+ 19 m, p = 0.14) and in Functional Limitation Profile score (− 82 points, p = 0.02). 50% of informal carers attended at least one session. No increase in carer strain was noted.
Conclusions: Twice-weekly group exercise focussing on aerobic endurance and everyday functional tasks was acceptable and well-tolerated in this patient group.