Comparison of low-frequency electrical myostimulation and conventional aerobic exercise training in patients with chronic heart failure

Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil. 2005 Jun;12(3):226-33. doi: 10.1097/01.hjr.0000166455.23346.a5.


Background: Physical training is recommended as an efficient therapy in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF). Low-frequency electrical myostimulation (EMS) has recently been suggested as a good alternative to conventional aerobic training. The aim of this study was to compare the effects of EMS and conventional exercise training in patients with moderate to severe CHF.

Methods: Twenty-four patients with stable CHF (56.7+/-7.3 years, New York Heart Association grades II and III) underwent 5 weeks of exercise training, 5 h a week, using EMS (n=12) or conventional (n=12) training programmes. At baseline and after the training period, patients performed a symptom-limited cardiopulmonary test, a 6-min and a 200-m walk exercises and an evaluation of maximal knee extensor strength.

Results: Oxygen uptake (VO2) and workload at the end of exercise (peak values) and at ventilatory threshold increased after EMS (P< or =0.05) and conventional exercise (P<0.05) training programmes. The slope of the relationship between VO2 and workload was reduced after EMS (P<0.05). The time to recover half of peak VO2 decreased irrespective of the training programme (P<0.001). EMS and conventional exercise training programmes also increased the maximal knee extensor strength (P<0.05), the distance walked in 6 min (P<0.01) and decreased the time elapsed to cover 200 m (P<0.05). These improvements were not statistically different between EMS and conventional exercise.

Conclusion: In patients with moderate to severe CHF, 5 weeks of EMS and conventional exercise training produce similar improvements to exercise capacity and muscle performance.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy*
  • Exercise Test
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Knee / physiology
  • Leg / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Oxygen Consumption*
  • Physical Fitness
  • Weight Lifting