Preoperative Supervised Exercise Improves Outcomes After Elective Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Repair: A Randomized Controlled Trial

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The aim of the study was to assess the impact of a preoperative medically supervised exercise program on outcomes after elective abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) repair.


Functional capacity is an important predictor of postoperative outcomes after elective AAA repair. Improving patients’ preoperative fitness with exercise has the potential to positively influence recovery.


A randomized controlled trial was performed at a tertiary vascular unit. Patients scheduled for open or endovascular AAA repair were randomized to either 6 weeks of preoperative supervised exercise or standard treatment using sealed envelopes. The primary outcome measure was a composite endpoint of cardiac, pulmonary, and renal complications. Secondary outcome measures were 30-day mortality, lengths of hospital and critical care stay, Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II (APACHE II) scores, reoperation, and postoperative bleeding.


One hundred twenty-four patients were randomized (111 men, mean [SD] age 73 [7] y). Fourteen patients sustained postoperative complications in the exercise group (22.6%), compared with 26 in the nonexercise group (41.9%; P = 0.021). Four patients (2 in each group) died within the first 30 postoperative days. Duration of hospital stay was significantly shorter in the exercise group (median 7 [interquartile range 5–9] vs 8 [interquartile range 6–12.3] d; P = 0.025). There were no significant differences between the groups in the length of critical care stay (P = 0.845), APACHE II scores (P = 0.256), incidence of reoperations (P = 1.000), or postoperative bleeding (P = 0.343).


A period of preoperative supervised exercise training reduces postoperative cardiac, respiratory, renal complications, and length of hospital stay in patients undergoing elective AAA repair.

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