Physical training improves endothelial function in patients with chronic heart failure

Circulation. 1996 Jan 15;93(2):210-4. doi: 10.1161/01.cir.93.2.210.


Background: Chronic heart failure is associated with endothelial dysfunction including impaired endothelium-mediated, flow-dependent dilation (FDD). Since endothelial function is thought to play an important role in coordinating tissue perfusion and modulating arterial compliance, interventions to improve endothelial dysfunction are imperative.

Methods and results: To assess the potential of physical training to restore FDD, 12 patients with chronic heart failure were studied and compared with FDD of 7 age-matched normal subjects. With a recently developed high-resolution ultrasound system, diameters of radial artery were measured at rest, during reactive hyperemia (with increased flow causing endothelium-mediated dilation), and during sodium nitroprusside, causing endothelium-independent dilation. Determination of FDD was repeated after intra-arterial infusion of NG-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA, 7 mumol/min) to inhibit endothelial synthesis and release of nitric oxide. The protocol was performed at baseline, after 4 weeks of daily handgrip training, and 6 weeks after cessation of the training program. FDD was impaired in heart failure patients compared with normal subjects. L-NMMA attenuated FDD, indicating that the endothelial release of nitric oxide is involved in FDD. Physical training restored FDD in patients with heart failure. In particular, the portion of FDD inhibited by L-NMMA (representing FDD mediated by nitric oxide) was significantly higher after physical training (8-minute occlusion: 8.0 +/- 1% versus 5.4 +/- 0.9%; P < .05; normal subjects: 9.2 +/- 1%).

Conclusions: These results indicate that physical training restores FDD in patients with chronic heart failure, possibly by enhanced endothelial release of nitric oxide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arginine / analogs & derivatives
  • Arginine / pharmacology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Forearm / blood supply
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitroprusside / pharmacology
  • Physical Education and Training*
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • omega-N-Methylarginine


  • Nitroprusside
  • omega-N-Methylarginine
  • Arginine