Objectives: The aim of this multicenter randomized study was to investigate whether long-term physical training would influence left ventricular remodeling after anterior myocardial infarction.
Background: Exercise is currently recommended for patients after myocardial infarction; however, the effects of long-term physical training on ventricular size and remodeling still have to be defined.
Methods: Patients with no contraindications to exercise were studied 4 to 8 weeks after anterior Q wave myocardial infarction and 6 months later by echocardiography at rest and bicycle ergometric testing. After the initial study, patients were randomly allocated to a 6-month exercise training program (n = 49) or a control group (n = 46). A computerized system was used to derive echocardiographic variables of ventricular size, function and topography.
Results: After 6 months, a significant (p < 0.01) increase in work capacity (from 4,596 +/- 1,246 to 5,508 +/- 1,335 kp-m) was observed only in the training group, whereas global ventricular size, regional dilation and shape distortion did not change in either the control or the training group. However, compared with patients with an ejection fraction > 40%, patients with an ejection fraction < or = 40% had more significant (p < 0.001) ventricular enlargement at entry and demonstrated further (p < 0.01) global and regional dilation after 6 months, in both the control and the training group (end-diastolic volume from 77 +/- 14 to 85 +/- 17 ml/m2 in the control group and from 74 +/- 11 to 77 +/- 15 ml/m2 in the training group; regional dilation from 46 +/- 18% to 57 +/- 21% in the control group and from 42 +/- 18% to 44 +/- 26% in the training group). Ventricular size and topography did not change in patients with an ejection fraction > 40%.
Conclusions: Patients with poor left ventricular function 1 to 2 months after anterior myocardial infarction are prone to further global and regional dilation. Exercise training does not appear to influence this spontaneous deterioration. Thus, postinfarction patients without clinical complications, even those with a large anterior infarction, may benefit from long-term physical training without any additional negative effect on ventricular size and topography.