Aims: This study was designed to compare the effects of combined endurance-resistance training (CT) with endurance training (ET) only on submaximal and maximal exercise capacity, ventilatory prognostic parameters, safety issues, and quality of life in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF).
Methods and results: Fifty-eight CHF patients (NYHA class II-III) were randomized either to 6 months CT [n = 28, 58 years, left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) 26%, VO(2)peak 18.1 mL/kg/min] or ET (n = 30, 59 years, LVEF 23%, VO(2)peak 21.3 mL/kg/min). The increase in steady-state workload (P = 0.007) and the decrease in heart rate at SSW (P = 0.002) were significantly larger in CT- compared with ET-trained patients. Maximal exercise capacity (i.e. VO(2)peak, maximal workload) and work-economy (Wattmax/VO(2)peak) evolved similarly. VO(2)peak halftime was reduced following CT (P = 0.001). Maximal strength in upper limbs increased significantly (P < 0.001) in favour of the CT group. CT also had a beneficial effect on health-related quality of life, i.e. 60% of CT-trained patients vs. 28% of ET-trained patients reported a decrease in cardiac symptoms (OR = 3.86, 95% CI 1.11-12.46, P = 0.03). There were no differences with regard to improved LVEF, evolution of left ventricular dimensions, nor outcome data (mortality and cardiovascular hospital admissions during follow-up).
Conclusion: In CHF patients, CT had a more pronounced effect on submaximal exercise capacity, muscle strength, and quality of life. The absence of unfavourable effects on left ventricular remodelling and outcome parameters is reassuring and might facilitate further implementation of this particular training modality.