A pilot randomized controlled trial to evaluate the benefit of the cardiac rehabilitation paradigm for the non-acute ischaemic stroke population

Clin Rehabil. 2008 Feb;22(2):125-33. doi: 10.1177/0269215507081580.


Objective: To evaluate risk factor reduction and health-related quality of life following a 10-week cardiac rehabilitation programme in non-acute ischaemic stroke subjects.

Design: Single-blinded randomized control trial.

Setting: Outpatient rehabilitation.

Subjects: Forty-eight community-dwelling ischaemic stroke patients (38 independently mobile, 9 requiring assistance, 1 non-ambulatory) were randomly assigned to intervention or control groups by concealed allocation.

Intervention: The trial consisted of a 10-week schedule with measures taken at weeks 1 and 10. Both groups continued usual care (excluding aerobic exercise); intervention subjects attended 16 cycle ergometry sessions of aerobic-training intensity and two stress-management classes.

Main outcome measures: Cardiac risk score (CRS); VO(2) (mL O(2)/kg per minute) and Borg Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) assessed during a standardized ergometry test; Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS); Frenchay Activity Index; Fasting Lipid Profiles and Resting Blood Pressure.

Results: Group comparison with independent t-tests showed significantly greater improvement at follow-up by intervention subjects than controls in VO(2) (intervention 10.6 +/-1.6 to 12.0 +/- 2.2, control 11.1 +/-1.8 to 11.1 +/-1.9 t=4.734, P<0.001) and CRS (intervention 13.4 +/-10.1 to 12.4 +/-10.5, control 9.4 +/-6.7 to 15.0 +/-6.1 t=-2.537, P<0.05). RPE rating decreased in intervention subjects (13.4 +/-12.2 to 12.4 +/-2.0) and increased in controls (13.8 +/-1.8 to 14.4 +/-1.6); Mann-Whitney U (U = 173.5, P<0.05). Within-group comparison showed significant decrease in the HADS depression subscale in the intervention group alone (5.1 +/-3.4 to 3.0 +/-2.8) (Wilcoxon signed ranks test Z=-3.278, P<0.001).

Conclusion: Preliminary findings suggest non-acute ischaemic stroke patients can improve their cardiovascular fitness and reduce their CRS with a cardiac rehabilitation programme. The intervention was associated with improvement in self-reported depression.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Ambulatory Care
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Exercise Test*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Exercise Tolerance*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Stroke Rehabilitation*