Effects of exercise training in heart transplant recipients: a meta-analysis

Cardiology. 2011;120(1):27-35. doi: 10.1159/000332998. Epub 2011 Nov 16.


Objectives: Muscle wasting and exercise intolerance are common in heart transplant recipients. Most studies on the effects of exercise training have used relatively small sample sizes and are heterogeneous in nature. The purpose of this meta-analysis was to systematically review the relevant studies and investigate the effects of exercise training on exercise capacity and muscle strength in heart transplant recipients.

Methods: A systematic search was adopted from electronic databases and relevant references, using medical subject heading key words related to heart transplantation and exercise. Only randomized controlled trials with exercise intervention versus usual care were included. The data were expressed as the weighted mean differences with 95% confidence intervals (CIs).

Results: Altogether 6 studies were included. Peak oxygen consumption (VO(2)) was reported in 4 trials (117 patients), and muscle strength was reported in 3 trials (67 patients). Peak VO(2) was significantly increased by 2.34 ml/kg/min (95% CI 0.63-4.05). One-repetition maxima of the chest press (23.28 kg, 95% CI 0.64-45.91) and leg press (28.84 kg, 95% CI 5.70-51.98) were significantly improved by exercise training.

Conclusion: Exercise training is recommended for heart transplant recipients to improve peak VO(2) and muscle strength despite the small number of trials included in this meta-analysis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Exercise Tolerance
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology
  • Heart Failure / rehabilitation
  • Heart Failure / surgery
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Heart Transplantation / physiology
  • Heart Transplantation / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Muscle Weakness / physiopathology
  • Muscle Weakness / rehabilitation
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Quality of Life
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome