Background Sleep disturbance and ventilator inefficiency are considered two of the most critical complications for general human wellbeing, particularly in elderly heart failure (HF) patients. Studies examining the effect of low-intensity aerobic exercise in the treatment of sleep disturbance and ventilatory inefficiency in this population of patients are limited.Objective The purpose of the current pilot study was to check the effect of low-intensity aerobic exercise on the quality of sleep and ventilatory efficiency in elderly HF patients.Materials and methods Design: pilot study.
outpatient physical therapy clinic within Cairo University regional hospital.
eight elderly HF patients (6 men, 2 women) with a mean age of 69.4±4.2 years.
participants were recruited for a low-intensity exercise program (40 to 50% of maximum heart rate for 30-40 minutes), five sessions weekly for four weeks. Exercise intensity was monitored during the sessions using heart rate.
sleep quality was assessed pre- and post- four weeks of exercise program usingthe Pittsburgh sleep quality index (PSQI) and ventilatory efficiency was assessed using cardiopulmonary exercise test.Results HF patients (II-III NYHA), mean age 69.4±4.2 years, body mass index 23.7±2.7 kg/m2, ejection fraction 32.7±4.5 %, VO2peak 16.27±4.2 ml/kg/min, VE/VCO2 30.81±12.7. The mean of global PSQI score ranged between 8.2 to 11.4 with a mean of 9.7±3.4 which indicates that the participants experienced sleep disturbance. The post-exercise assessment showed that patients have reported a significant improvement of all PSQI domains compared with baseline assessment (p<0.05). VO2peak significantly increased from 16.27±4.2 pre-intervention to 20.03±2.6 ml/kg/min post-intervention (p=0.049) whereas VE/VCO2 slightly decreased with a non-significant difference at the end of the study program (p=0.594) indicating animprovement of ventilator efficiencyand overall cardiorespiratory fitness.Conclusion Short-term application of low-intensity aerobic exercise (4 weeks) may improve the quality of sleep and ventilator efficiency in elderly HF patients. The study findings encourage elderly HF patients with sleep disturbance to adhere to the exercise training program. Also, cardiac rehabilitation programs with low intensity of aerobic exercise should be proposed to these patients by their health care provider.

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