Background: For exercise prescription, rating of perceived exertion is the subjective tool most frequently used in addition to methods based on percentage of peak exercise variables. The aim of this study was the validation of a subjective method widely called the Talk Test (TT) for optimization of training intensity in patients with recent myocardial revascularization.
Design and methods: Fifty patients with recent myocardial revascularization (17 by coronary artery bypass grafting and 33 by percutaneous coronary intervention) were enrolled in a cardiac rehabilitation programme. Each patient underwent three repetitions of the TT during three different exercise sessions to evaluate the within-patient and between-operators reliability in assessing the workload (WL) at TT thresholds. These parameters were then compared with the data of a final cardiopulmonary exercise testing, and the WL range between the individual aerobic threshold (AeT) and anaerobic threshold (AnT) was considered as the optimal training zone.
Results: The within-patient and between-operators reliability in assessing TT thresholds were satisfactory. No significant differences were found between patients' and physiotherapists' evaluations of WL at different TT thresholds. WL at Last TT+ was between AeT and AnT in 88% of patients and slightly <AeT in the remaining subjects. At higher TT thresholds, a progressively increasing number of patients would exercise beyond the AnT.
Conclusions: Our data show that the reliability of TT, evaluated both by patients and by physiotherapists, is satisfactory and the use of Last TT + threshold to optimize aerobic training intensity after a recent myocardial revascularization is an effective and safe strategy.