Pulmonary rehabilitation in lung transplant candidates

J Heart Lung Transplant. 2013 Jun;32(6):626-32. doi: 10.1016/j.healun.2013.04.002.


Background: While awaiting lung transplantation, candidates may participate in pulmonary rehabilitation to improve their fitness for surgery. However, pulmonary rehabilitation outcomes have not been systematically evaluated in lung transplant candidates.

Methods: This investigation was a retrospective cohort study of 345 pre-transplant pulmonary rehabilitation participants who received a lung transplant between January 2004 and June 2009 and had available pre-transplant exercise data. Data extracted included: 6-minute walk tests at standard intervals; exercise training details; health-related quality-of-life (HRQL) measures; and early post-transplant outcomes. Paired t-tests were used to examine changes in the 6MW distance (6MWD), exercise training volume and HRQL during the pre-transplant period. We evaluated the association between pre-transplant 6MWD and transplant hospitalization outcomes.

Results: The final 6MWD prior to transplantation was only 15 m less than the listing 6MWD (n = 200; p = 0.002). Exercise training volumes increased slightly from the start of the pulmonary rehabilitation program until transplant: treadmill, increase 0.69 ml/kg/min (n = 238; p < 0.0001); biceps resistance training, 18 lbs. × reps (n = 286; p < 0.0001); and quadriceps resistance training, 15 lbs. × reps (n = 278; p < 0.0001). HRQL measures declined. A greater final 6MWD prior to transplant correlated with a shorter length of stay in the hospital (n = 207; p = 0.003).

Conclusions: Exercise capacity and training volumes are well preserved among lung transplant candidates participating in pulmonary rehabilitation, even in the setting of severe, progressive lung disease. Participants with greater exercise capacity prior to transplantation have more favorable early post-transplant outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cystic Fibrosis / surgery
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiopathology*
  • Lung Transplantation / rehabilitation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / surgery
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / surgery
  • Quality of Life
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult