The effect of exercise training and physiotherapy on left and right heart function in heart failure with preserved ejection fraction: a systematic literature review

Heart Fail Rev. 2023 Jan;28(1):193-206. doi: 10.1007/s10741-022-10259-1. Epub 2022 Jul 13.


The impact of exercise training and physiotherapy on heart function and pulmonary circulation parameters in heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) patients is uncertain. Hence, we performed a systematic review of published trials studying physical training in HFpEF population, with a focus on exercise and physiotherapy effect on left ventricular (LV), right ventricular (RV) morphological, functional, and pulmonary circulation parameters. We searched Cochrane Library and MEDLINE/PubMed for trials that evaluated the effect of exercise training and/or physiotherapy in adult HFpEF patients (defined as LVEF ≥ 45%), including publications until March 2021. Our systematic review identified eighteen articles (n = 418 trained subjects, 4 to 52 weeks of training) and covered heterogeneous trials with various populations, designs, methodologies, and interventions. Five of twelve trials revealed a significant reduction of mitral E/e' ratio after the training (- 1.2 to - 4.9). Seven studies examined left atrial volume index; three of them showed its decrease (- 3.7 to - 8 ml/m2). Findings were inconsistent regarding improvement of cardiac output, E/A ratio, and E wave DecT and uncertain for RV function and pulmonary hypertension parameters. For now, no reliable evidence about rehabilitation effect on HFpEF cardiac mechanisms is available. There are some hypotheses generating findings on potential positive effects to parameters of LV filling pressure (E/e'), left atrium size, cardiac output, and RV function. This encourages a broader and more complex assessment of parameters reflecting cardiac function in future HFpEF exercise training studies.

Keywords: Cardiac imaging; Diastolic function; Exercise training; Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction; Physiotherapy.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Exercise
  • Heart Failure* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Stroke Volume
  • Ventricular Function, Left