Background: The objective of this study was to determine the effects of a moderate exercise training program on functional capacity, quality of life, and hospital readmission rate in chronic heart failure patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators and cardiac resynchronization therapy.
Methods and results: We studied 52 men (mean age 55+/-10 years, ejection fraction 31+/-7%) in chronic heart failure II (n=29) and III (n=23) NYHA functional class with ischemic cardiomyopathy who received implantable cardioverter defibrillators with or without cardiac resynchronization therapy. Patients were randomized into two groups. Group T (n=30 patients, 15 implantable cardioverter defibrillator, 15 implantable cardioverter defibrillator+cardiac resynchronization therapy) underwent a supervised exercise training program at 60% of peak VO2 three times a week for 8 weeks. Group C (n=22 patients, 12 implantable cardioverter defibrillator, 10 implantable cardioverter defibrillator+cardiac resynchronization therapy) avoided physical training. At 8 weeks, only trained patients had improvements in peak VO2 (P<0.01 versus C), endothelium-dependent dilatation of the brachial artery (P<0.001 versus C) and quality of life (P<0.001 versus C). Among trained patients, those with cardiac resynchronization therapy had greater improvements in peak VO2 and quality of life. During the follow-up (24+/-6 months), eight controls had sustained ventricular tachycardia requiring hospital readmission, while no trained patients had adverse events (log rank 8.56; P<0.001). The improvement in peak VO2 was correlated with the improvement in endothelium-dependent dilatation (r=0.65).
Conclusion: Moderate exercise training is safe and has beneficial effects after implantable cardioverter defibrillator implantation, especially when cardiac resynchronization therapy is present. These effects are associated with improvement in quality of life and outcome.