Aim: To date there have been no studies exploring the effects of long-term versus intermediate-term and short-term supervised exercise training program in patients with severe chronic heart failure (CHF) on optimal medical therapy. We assessed exercise tolerance and mortality in CHF patients undergoing long- versus intermediate-term exercise training (ET). Methods: Forty-two consecutive severe CHF patients (New York Heart Association functional class III) were referred for a supervised exercise and cardiac rehabilitation program and were followed-up for 3 years: 20/42 (48%) patients discontinued ET after intermediate-term period of 1.6 ± 0.8 years (Group A, intermediate-term ET), and 22/42 (52%) remained on the ET program for 3.0 ± 0.3 years (Group B, long-term ET). Exercise duration, 6-min walked distance and metabolic equivalents (METs) assessed by modified Bruce protocol were recorded before, 4.5 months after, and 3 years after initiation of ET. Results: Both groups were comparable regarding age, gender, prevalence of ischemic etiology, mean ejection fraction and medications. Risk factors for ischemic heart disease were similar, except for the prevalence of diabetes, which was higher in Group A compared to Group B (11/20 versus 5/22, p = 0.03). Significantly more Group A patients died after ET discontinuation (4/20 versus 0/22, p = 0.01). At the end of follow-up a significant improvement could be seen in Group B patients compared to A in exercise duration, 6-min walked distance and metabolic equivalents (p < 0.01 for all). Conclusions: Higher survival rate was observed in severe CHF patients undergoing long-term versus intermediate-term exercise training. Long-term supervised exercise training is safe and improves exercise tolerance in these patients.
- Functional capacity
- Heart failure