Promotion and maintenance of physically active lifestyle in older outpatients 2 years after acute coronary syndrome

Aging Clin Exp Res. 2022 Jan 8. doi: 10.1007/s40520-021-02044-1. Online ahead of print.


Aims: To examine long-term changes in lifestyle and exercise capacity of older patients hospitalized for acute coronary syndrome (ACS) involved in an innovative centre- and home-based exercise-based secondary prevention program.

Methods: A sample of 118 patients with ACS (age 76 [72-80] years) was analysed. Long-term changes in self-reported weekly leisure-time physical activity (wLTPA), walking speed (WS), and estimated cardiorespiratory fitness (eCRF, VO2peak, mL/kg/min) were the outcome variables. The program consisted of seven individual on-site sessions including motivational interviewing to reach exercise goals. Exercise prescription was based on the results of a standardized moderate and perceptually regulated treadmill walk to estimate VO2peak. wLTPA, WS, and eCRF were assessed at 1 (baseline), 2, 3, 4, 6, 12, and 24 months after discharge.

Results: 87, 76, and 70 patients completed follow-up at 6, 12, and 24 months, respectively. wLTPA significantly increased during the follow-up period (median METs/H/week 2.5, 11.2, 12.0, and 13.4 at baseline, 6, 12, and 24 months, respectively; P < 0.0001). At baseline, 18% of the sample met the current international guidelines for physical activity, while 75%, 70%, and 76% of them met the recommended values at 6-, 12-, and 24-month follow-up sessions, respectively. These results were associated with increasing median WS (2.9 ± 1.0, 4.3 ± 1.2, 4.5 ± 1.1, 4.5 ± 1.2 km/h, respectively, P < 0.0001), and VO2peak (16.5, 21.4, 21.1, 21.3 mL/kg/min, respectively, P < 0.0001).

Conclusions: This early, individualized exercise intervention improved long-term adherence to a physically active lifestyle, walking capacity, and eCRF in older patients after ACS. Larger studies are needed to confirm short- and long-term clinical benefits of this intervention.

Keywords: Acute coronary syndrome; Cardiorespiratory fitness; Cardiovascular diseases; Exercise; Short physical performance battery; Walking speed.