High-intensity interval training in patients with coronary heart disease: Prescription models and perspectives

Ann Phys Rehabil Med. 2017 Jan;60(1):50-57. doi: 10.1016/j.rehab.2016.04.004. Epub 2016 Jun 23.


Recently, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) has emerged as an alternative and/or complementary exercise modality to continuous aerobic exercise training (CAET) in CHD patients. However, the literature contains descriptions of many HIIT protocols with different stage durations, nature of recovery and intensities. In this review, we discuss the most recent forms of validated HIIT protocols in patients with coronary heart disease (CHD) and how to prescribe and use them during short- and long-term (phase II and III) cardiac rehabilitation programs. We also compare the superior and/or equivalent short- and long-term effects of HIIT versus CAET on aerobic fitness, cardiovascular function, and quality of life; their efficiency, safety, and tolerance; and exercise adherence. Short interval HIIT was found beneficial for CHD patients with lower aerobic fitness and would ideally be used in initiation and improvement stages. Medium and/or long interval HIIT protocols may be beneficial for CHD patients with higher aerobic fitness, and would be ideally used in the improvement and maintenance stages because of their high physiological stimulus. Finally, we propose progressive individualized models of HIIT programs (phase II to III) for patients with CHD and how to ideally use them according to the clinical status of patients and phase of the cardiac rehabilitation program.

Keywords: Continuous aerobic exercise training; Coronary heart disease; Exercise prescription; High-intensity interval training.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Rehabilitation / methods*
  • Cardiac Rehabilitation / standards
  • Coronary Disease / rehabilitation*
  • Exercise Test
  • Exercise Tolerance
  • High-Intensity Interval Training / methods
  • High-Intensity Interval Training / standards*
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*