Background: This study determined the response of aortic and/or mitral valve replacement/reconstruction (AVR/MVR) surgery patients to a 3-month exercise rehabilitation program (ERP) of moderate intensity, frequency, and duration that commenced approximately 9 weeks post-operatively.
Methods: Based on geographic proximity and availability of transportation to attend ERP classes, 29 experimental subjects were enrolled in the ERP and 20 control subjects received standard care that did not include the ERP, but did not prohibit activity/exercise. Exercise tolerance was determined from estimated oxygen uptake (VO2) during exercise tolerance testing (GXT) before and after standard care or the ERP.
Results: VO2 at the maximum stage of the GXT increased significantly (P < or = 05) for the experimental (4.89 +/- 5.07 mL/kg/min) and control (5.11 +/- 4.48 mL/kg/min) groups. No significant between-group differences were noted in VO2 at the maximum stage of the exercise testing or at the target heart rate (HR). Furthermore, reported exercise levels of subjects in both groups were comparable and sufficient for training effects to occur.
Conclusion: Alternate strategies to improve exercise tolerance such as home-based rehabilitation programs should be investigated for relatively healthy aortic and/or mitral valve surgical patients.