Muscle Training May Benefit Chronic Heart Failure Patients

November 12, 2012

Muscle Training May Benefit Chronic Heart Failure Patients


Journal of the American College of Cardiology has published an online report which says that people with chronic heart disease can improve their quality of life by doing exercise that strengthens their small muscles. According to the report the training on small muscles enhances oxygen flow leading to an improved quality of life.

The study was carried out by Italian and American researchers and consisted of an exercise program lasting eight weeks during which time 12 men carried out isolated small muscle and whole body exercises. Half of the group of 12 had chronic heart failure, the others did not. Small muscle exercises included knee extensions and whole body exercises included cycling.

Initially the researchers compared the muscle structure, metabolism and oxygen transport of all the participants, both those with chronic heart failure and those without. After the eight week program everyone was re-examined, and results between those with and without heart disease were compared.

The results indicated that for both groups, cardiac output was similar before and after the training program, although the researchers did note a change in oxygen transport. Prior to the training program those with chronic heart failure had considerably lower levels of oxygen being delivered to their leg muscles. After the program was completed the levels of oxygen in the leg muscles had risen significantly by 54%. This level of oxygen is the same as those without heart disease.

A further finding noted was that leg oxygen consumption of those with heart failure also rose by a hefty 53% after the training program. The researchers believe that this was caused by better blood flow redistribution.

After the first eight week training program the men with heart failure underwent another eight week training course so that researchers could note if any further changes took place in their condition.

The study findings, “indicate that the skeletal muscle of patients with chronic heart failure still has the potential to adapt in the expected fashion, if given the appropriate stimuli”, according to lead author Dr. Fabio Esposito, of the University of Milan.

The team says that their findings could assist medical professionals to develop improved treatment and therapy plans for patients with chronic heart failure.

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