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Mary Tolhurst-Stuart, Allan Griffiin and Neil Chapman, Exercise Physiologist

The importance of physical activity as part of a heart failure treatment plan is well recognised. In the 2011 Update to the National Heart Foundation of Australia and Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand Guidelines for the prevention, detection and management of chronic heart failure in Australia, it remained a Grade A recommendation. 

“All patients be referred to a specifically designed physical activity program, if available” (Krum et al. 2011).

Such a program does exist in Lismore at Southern Cross University Health Clinic. Patients are assessed by an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) and an individualised exercise prescription is tailored to accommodate their functional status. After this initial assessment patients attend group exercise sessions, guided by student exercise physiologists who are in turn supervised by an AEP. There is no time limit to patient attendance as this is a maintenance program and the first 12 weeks are free.

This program is supported by the Northern NSW Local Health District Heart Failure Service

Management of Heart Failure can be complex as a result of the patients multiple comorbid conditions, polypharmacy, dietary concerns, and psychosocial issues. A multidisciplinary team approach incorporating a Specialist Cardiac Nurse can support the patient to remain well at home with education including incorporation of exercise and stress management into daily activities to reduce hospital admissions, reduce depression and improve quality of life. 

The heart failure exercise maintenance program at the SCU Health Clinic provides excellent ongoing physical activity advice and support for patients who wish to be more mobile.
- Mary Tolhurst-Stuart MHSc (CritCareNurs), Specialist Cardiac Nurse

Heart failure patients such as Allan, whose tolerance to walking had been declining due to hip pain, have benefited from the exercise support offered by this service.

By going to that exercise once a week I’m ----- it's sort of topping me up. It gets me active again ---- even if it's only for an hour it's great, it gets me up and gets me interested in doing things again.

Sessions run twice a week Tuesday and Thursday, excluding Monday 22nd December until Monday 5th January inclusive, as this service is closed for summer holiday. 

For more information contact (02) 66 269131