Researchers say exercise testing can benefit chronic disease patients
There may be light at the end of the tunnel for chronic
heart and lung patients. Latest research carried out by the European
Respiratory Society's (ERS) task force on clinical exercise testing
shows that exercise testing can help diagnose chronic heart and lung
conditions and measure responses to treatment. After assessing the
testing's technology and benefits, the task force advised clinicians
on how to best use the testing. The results of the three-year international
study were published in the January issue of the European Respiratory Journal.
Exercise is a problem for people diagnosed with chronic heart and lung disease.
Based on the initial findings of the research, clinical exercise
testing measures how the heart, lungs and muscles perform during
exercise. What is significant here is that the testing is sensitive
to changes in performance because improvements can be small and
gradual for the most part.
For people diagnosed with chronic heart and lung disease, one of
the biggest hurdles they face is exercise. Researchers say that even
walking across a room can leave them gasping for air. Failure to
exercise triggers other health problems, such as a loss of body mass.
This in turn could potentially lower a patient's life expectancy.
Conventional methods used to help these patients include drug treatments,
dietary changes, exercise training and even extra oxygen. However, the
improvements can be minor and assessing the effectiveness of the treatment
is not as simple as people think. Conversely, clinical exercise testing
allows for the proper evaluation and applications of interventions for
each patient, as well as the measurement of small incremental changes.
Task member Sue Ward, who is also a Professor of Sports Science at the
University of Leeds, said: “We were asked to review the latest developments
in this kind of testing and look at the reasons why physicians should be
considering it as a diagnostic tool.” Prof. Ward said that despite the pricey
equipment and trained staff, patients suffering from chronic conditions would benefit.
Based on the initial findings (which will be the subject of a European
Respiratory Society monograph later this year), as the indices the tool
uses are very sensitive to change, the clinical exercise testing can be
used to diagnose certain conditions and diseases. The testing can also have
a prognostic value, the researchers said.
While clinical exercise testing is starting to get off the ground in the
United Kingdom, researchers in Germany, Italy, North America and Japan have
been using it over 20 years. Despite the fact that the number of deaths from
cardiovascular disease has been falling rapidly since the 1970s, experts say
that cardiovascular disease is still Britons' biggest enemy. Researchers report
that the UK posts one of the highest cardiovascular disease death rates in Western
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