Exercise training in patients with severe chronic heart failure: impact on left ventricular performance and cardiac size. A retrospective analysis of the Leipzig Heart Failure Training Trial.Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil. 2003 Oct; 10(5):336-44.EJ
Exercise training (ET) has been shown to improve functional work capacity in patients with stable chronic heart failure (CHF) having moderate symptoms (NYHA class II). This analysis was conducted, to evaluate the effects of ET on left ventricular function and haemodynamics in patients with advanced CHF (NYHA class III) fulfilling the inclusion criteria of the COPERNICUS trial.
Seventy-three patients with moderate and advanced CHF were prospectively randomised to a training (n=36), or to a control group (n=37). At baseline and after six months, patients underwent echocardiography and symptom-limited ergospirometry with measurement of central haemodynamics by thermodilution.
Nine out of 37 patients in the control group (C) and 10 out of 36 patients in the training group (T) had symptoms of advanced CHF. Exercise training over a period of six months resulted in an improvement of functional status on average by one NYHA class in patients with advanced CHF. Moreover, oxygen uptake at the ventilatory threshold increased by 49% (from 7.7+/-1.0 to 11.4+/-0.4 mL/min/kg, P<0.01 versus baseline) and at peak exercise by 32% (from 16.3+/-1.6 to 21.5+/-1.2 mL/min/kg, P<0.01 versus baseline) in training patients. The small, but significant reduction in left ventricular end-diastolic diameter by 7% (from 70+/-2 to 66+/-2 mm; P<0.05 versus baseline) was accompanied by an augmentation in stroke volume at rest by 32% (from 45+/-3 to 60+/-6 mL, P<0.05 versus baseline) and at peak exercise by 27% (63+/-9 to 81+/-9 mL, P<0.05 versus baseline) as a result of ET in patients with advanced CHF.
In patients with advanced CHF (NYHA class III), long-term exercise training is associated with an enhanced physical work capacity, an improvement in stroke volume and a reduction in cardiomegaly.