High-intensity interval exercise in chronic heart failure: protocol optimization

J Card Fail. 2012 Feb;18(2):126-33. doi: 10.1016/j.cardfail.2011.10.010. Epub 2011 Nov 25.


Background: There are little data on the optimization of high-intensity aerobic interval exercise (HIIE) protocols in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF). Therefore, we compared acute cardiopulmonary responses to 4 different HIIE protocols to identify the optimal one.

Methods and results: Twenty men with stable systolic CHF performed 4 different randomly ordered single HIIE sessions with measurement of gas exchange. For all protocols (A, B, C, and D) exercise intensity was set at 100% of peak power output (PPO). Interval duration was 30 seconds (A and B) or 90 seconds (C and D), and recovery was passive (A and C) or active (50% of PPO in B and D). Time spent above 85% of VO(2peak) and time above the ventilatory threshold were similar across all 4 HIIE protocols. Total exercise time was significantly longer in protocols with passive recovery intervals (A: 1,651 ± 347 s; C: 1,574 ± 382 s) compared with protocols with active recovery intervals (B: 986 ± 542 s; D: 961 ± 556 s). All protocols appeared to be safe, with exercise tolerance being superior during protocol A.

Conclusion: Among the 4 HIIE protocols tested, protocol A with short intervals and passive recovery appeared to be superior.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Exercise Test
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Exercise Tolerance
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology
  • Heart Failure / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen Consumption