Background: Prolonged oxygen uptake kinetics (O2 kinetics), following the onset of a constant workload of exercise has been associated with a poor prognosis in patients with chronic heart failure. This study aimed to determine both continuous and interval training effects on the different O2-kinetics phases in these patients.
Design: Twenty-one patients (60+/-8 years) with stable chronic heart failure participated in a 36-session exercise rehabilitation program (three times weekly). Patients were randomly assigned to interval training (n=11; 100% of peak work rate for 30 s, alternating with 30 s-rest) and to continuous training (n=10; 50% of peak work rate).
Methods: Before and after the completion of the program, all patients performed both incremental symptom-limited and constant workload submaximal cardiopulmonary exercise tests. Phase I O2-kinetics was evaluated by time (t), from the start of exercise until the onset of decreased respiratory exchange ratio and phase II by the time constant (tau) of the response from the end of phase I until steady state.
Results: After training, there was a significant increase in peak oxygen uptake and peak work rate in both continuous (15.3+/-4.4 vs. 16.6+/-4.5 ml/kg per min; P=0.03 and 81.8+/-40.1 vs. 94.7+/-46.1 W; P=0.03) and interval training groups (14.2+/-3.1 vs. 15.4+/-4.2 ml/kg per min; P=0.03 and 82.5+/-24.1 vs. 93.7+/-30.1 W; P=0.04). Patients who underwent interval training had a significant decrease in t (39.7+/-3.7 to 36.1+/-6.9 s; P=0.05), but not tau (59.6+/-9.4 to 58.9+/-8.5 s; P=ns), whereas those assigned to continuous training had a significant decrease in both t (40.6+/-6.1 to 36.4+/-5.4 s; P=0.01) and tau (63.3+/-23.6 to 42.5+/-16.7 s; P=0.03).
Conclusions: Exercise training improves O2 kinetics in chronic heart failure patients. Both continuous and interval training improve phase I O2-kinetics, but continuous training results in superior improvement of the phase II O2-kinetics, an indirect index of muscle oxidative capacity.