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Aerobic Exercise Programs Benefit Stroke Survivors

MONDAY, Aug. 26, 2019 -- Group-based aerobic exercise programs, like cardiac rehabilitation, provide benefits to stroke survivors, according to a review published online Aug. 14 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Elizabeth W. Regan, D.P.T., from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to identify studies evaluating aerobic programs for stroke survivors, similar in activity and dosage to cardiac rehabilitation programs, to determine their efficacy for improving aerobic and walking capacity.

Based on 19 identified studies with 23 eligible groups (485 adults aged 54 to 71 years), the researchers found that survivors of stroke improved their composite aerobic capacity (based on the six-minute walk test, maximal oxygen consumption [VO2] peak, and walking speed) with an effect size of 0.38. Among the different exercise groups that were evaluated, walking was the most common type of activity, followed by stationary cycling and mixed-mode aerobic exercise. Mixed aerobic activity provided the best result (four treatment groups), followed by walking (12 treatment groups), while cycling was still significant but the least effective. The researchers noted a pooled difference in means of 53.3 m for studies including the six-minute walk test.

"Almost every hospital has a cardiac rehab program, so it's an existing platform that could be used for stroke survivors," a coauthor said in a statement. "Funneling patients with stroke into these existing programs may be an easy, cost-effective solution with long-term benefits."

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Posted: August 2019

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