Aims: Diastolic dysfunction (DD) was identified as a predictor of adverse prognosis in heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFREF). It is, however, unknown if DD is improved by exercise training, which is known to induce reverse remodelling, and if the training effect is attenuated in elderly HFREF patients. We therefore assessed DD in a cohort of referent controls (RCs) and HFREF patients and studied the response of DD to endurance exercise in two age groups (≤55 years and ≥65 years).
Methods and results: Sixty RC (30 ≤ 55 years, mean age 50 ± 5 years; 30 ≥ 65 years, 72 ± 4 years) and 60 HFREF patients (30 ≤ 55 years, 46 ± 5 years; 30 ≥ 65 years, 72 ± 5 years, EF 28 ± 5%) were randomized to 4 weeks of supervised endurance training or to a control group. Exercise training was effective in reducing LV isovolumetric relaxation time by 29% in young and by 26% in old HFREF patients (P< 0.05 for both). As assessed by tissue Doppler, septal E' increased by 37% in young and by 39% among old HFREF patients (P< 0.005 for both) resulting in a significant decrease in the E/E' ratio from 13 ± 1 to 10 ± 1 in young and 14 ± 1 to 11 ± 1 in old HFREF patients (P< 0.05 for both). Serum levels of N-terminal pro brain natriuretic peptide were significantly reduced after endurance training in HFREF patients of all ages.
Conclusion: In HFREF, diastolic function is significantly impaired in all age groups. Endurance training is highly effective in improving left ventricular diastolic function in HFREF patients regardless of age. This study is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov (number: NCT00176319).