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

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Abstract

Objective:

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.

Background:

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.

Methods:

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.

Results:

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).

Conclusions:

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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