Exercise Performance During the First Two Years After Left Ventricular Assist Device Implantation

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Exercise performance of patients with left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) improves after postimplant cardiac rehabilitation (CR). Few studies assess the effectiveness of a CR and its long-term effect of exercise performance. For this purpose, we retrospectively analyzed data from LVAD patients, who underwent a stationary CR twice after pump implantation. Data from exercise training and cardiopulmonary exercise tests (CPETs) were analyzed. Fifteen patients (age: 57 ± 10 years, male 87%) were admitted to the rehabilitation clinic twice 39 ± 18 and 547 ± 197 days after LVAD implantation. An improvement from the beginning to the end of the second CR was observed in bicycle ergometer training (14.0 ± 8.8 vs. 35.7 ± 14.7 W; p < 0.001), in muscular strength (e.g., leg press: 41 ± 10 vs. 53 ± 14 kg; p < 0.001), and in 6 minute walk distance (421 ± 126 m vs. 480 ± 133 m; p = 0.040). Between the first and the second CR, improvement in all the training modules was observed as well as an increase in CPETs peak workload (56 ± 24 vs. 83 ± 26 W; p < 0.001) but not in peak oxygen consumption (12.3 ± 3.2 vs. 12.2 ± 4.0 ml/min/kg; p = 0.906). Thus, over long implant periods, patients showed improvement of their exercise performance in the submaximal load range, but no change in the aerobic capacity was observed.

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