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.