Exercise training improves exercise capacity and quality of life in patients with inoperable or residual chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension

PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e41603. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0041603. Epub 2012 Jul 25.


Background: Aim of this prospective study was to evaluate the effects of exercise training in patients with inoperable or residual chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH).

Methods: Thirty-five consecutive patients with invasively confirmed inoperable or residual CTEPH (16 women;19 men; mean age 61±15 years, mean pulmonary artery pressure, 63±20 mmHg; primary inoperable n = 33, persisting pulmonary hypertension after pulmonary endarterectomy n = 2) on stable disease-targeted medication received exercise training in-hospital for 3 weeks and continued at home for 15 weeks. Medication remained unchanged during the study period. Efficacy parameters have been evaluated at baseline, after 3 and 15 weeks by blinded-observers. Survival rate has been evaluated in a follow-up period of median 36.4 months (interquartile range 26.6-46.6 months).

Results: All patients tolerated exercise training without severe adverse events. Patients significantly improved the mean distance walked in 6 minutes compared to baseline by 61±54 meters after 3 weeks (p<0.001) and by 71±70 meters after 15 weeks (p = 0.001), as well as scores of quality-of-life questionnaire, peak oxygen consumption and maximal workload. NT-proBNP improved significantly after 3 weeks of exercise training (p = 0.046). The 1-year survival rate was 97%, 2-year survival rate was 94% and the 3-year-survival 86% respectively.

Conclusion: Training as add-on to medical therapy may be effective in patients with CTEPH to improve work capacity, quality of life and further prognostic relevant parameters and possibly improves the 1-, 2- and 3-year survival rate. Further multicentric randomized controlled studies are needed to confirm these promising results.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01398345.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Disease
  • Exercise Therapy / adverse effects
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / complications
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / physiopathology*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / surgery
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Embolism / complications*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Recurrence
  • Survival Analysis
  • Young Adult

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01398345

Grant support

The study was funded by a grant of the German patient organization Pulmonale Hypertonie e.V., Rheinstetten, Germany. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.