Short-term Exercise Training in Patients With Chronic Atrial Fibrillation: EFFECTS ON EXERCISE CAPACITY, AV CONDUCTION, AND QUALITY OF LIFE

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PURPOSE:A randomized study was conducted to determine whether short-term exercise training in patients with chronic atrial fibrillation (AF) might improve exercise capacity and quality of life (QOL), and influence atrioventricular conduction.METHODS:Atrial fibrillation patients (age 64 ± 7 years) were randomized to exercise training (n = 15) or a 2-month control period (n = 15) followed by the training program. Twenty-four training sessions consisted of aerobic exercise and muscle strengthening. A cycle ergometer test and a 15-minute resting high-frequency spectral electrocardiogram analysis were performed and a QOL questionnaire (SF-36) was completed before and after training. Because there were no changes after 2 months in the control group, pooled data for all patients are presented before and after training.RESULTS:Cumulated work at Borg scale 17 increased by 41% ± 36%. Heart rate at rest and after 10 minutes of exercise decreased from 75 ± 14 to 68 ± 14 bpm and 145 ± 19 to 137 ± 21 bpm, respectively. HF increased from 81 ± 17 to 91 ± 22 milliseconds. Four of the 8 scales and 1 of the 2 summary scales of the Short-Form-36 improved. P <.05 for all results.CONCLUSIONS:Exercise capacity, heart rate variability, and QOL improved after 2 months of exercise training in patients with chronic AF. Heart rates at rest and during exercise decreased.

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