Objective: This study reports acute exercise responses in a large (N = 46) series of patients with McArdle disease and responses to exercise training in a smaller (n = 9) set of patients.
Design: Patients were studied during both incremental and steady-state cycle ergometer exercise, using cardiopulmonary testing, and the patients were compared with age- and gender-matched controls.
Setting: The study was performed in a university setting (clinical exercise physiology laboratory).
Participants: The 46 patients showed common features of McArdle disease. They were definitively diagnosed by histochemistry, biochemistry, and/or molecular genetic analysis. The 46 controls were healthy, sedentary individuals.
Intervention: Nine patients were studied before and after an 8-month supervised aerobic exercise training program (including five weekly sessions of walking and/or cycling exercise with a duration no greater than 60 minutes).
Main outcome measurements: The main indicators of exercise capacity that we measured were peak power output, peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak), and ventilatory threshold (VT).
Results: Exercise capacity (peak power output, 35% control; VO2peak, 44% control; VT, 66% control) was markedly depressed in the patients. The patients who trained improved peak power output (25%), VO2peak (44%), and VT (27%), with no evidence of negative outcomes from training. Although not achieving normal values, the response to training put the patients into the lower limit of normal controls.
Conclusions: Under carefully controlled conditions, patients with McArdle disease may perform acute exercise safely, and they may respond favorably to training. This may offer an additional therapeutic option to help normalize the lifestyles of these patients.