Exercise training in advanced heart failure patients: Discordance between improved exercise tolerance and unchanged NT-proBNP levels

Michael Arad, Yehuda Adler, Nira Koren-Morag, Shy Natanzon, Ben Ami Sela, Issahar Ben Dov, Michael Shechter, Ehud Schwammenthal, Dov Freimark*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background: Exercise training can improve aerobic capacity and symptoms in congestive heart failure (CHF) patients. Aims: To test the feasibility of exercise training in advanced CHF patients, and examine the potential benefit from peripheral vascular and muscular conditioning as well as improved central hemodynamic and neurohumoral status. Methods and results: Thirty NYHA functional class III, CHF patients (mean age 61 ± 13 yr, ejection fraction 27 ± 4%, VO2max 11.3 ± 3.9 ml/kg/min) were enrolled. Exercise capacity, cardiovascular parameters and serum levels of brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) were determined at baseline and after 18 weeks of moderate intensity exercise training. Twenty eight (93%) patients, who completed the exercise program, experienced marked improvements in the 6 min walk (+ 39%) and exercise duration on the modified Bruce protocol (+ 66%). Smaller improvements were recorded in the cardiac index (a 15% increase), in the maximal oxygen consumption (a 13% increase in VO2max), in the left ventricular ejection fraction (an 11% increase) and in the systemic vascular resistance and pulmonary artery pressure (an 11% decrease). NT-proBNP levels were not significantly affected. They correlated with exercise capacity and VO2max on baseline measurement, but these correlations were not found after training. Conclusion: Rehabilitation is feasible, even in advanced CHF, and leads to markedly improved exercise performance, but does not affect the level of the principal neurohumoral marker of prognosis - NT-proBNP. Resting cardiovascular performance and maximal oxygen consumption improve less than functional capacity, suggesting that an important benefit is derived from muscle conditioning and improved peripheral vascular response to exercise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-119
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Cardiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 7 May 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Advanced heart failure
  • Exercise capacity
  • NT-proBNP
  • Rehabilitation


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