Effect of walking speed in heart failure patients and heart transplant patients

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Chronic heart failure patients present higher cost of transport and some changes in pattern of walking, but the same aspects have not yet been investigated in heart transplant patients.


The aim of this study was to investigate both metabolic and mechanicals parameters, at five different walking speeds on treadmill, in chronic heart failure and heart transplant patients. Twelve chronic heart failure patients, twelve healthy controls and five heart transplant patients participated in the study. Tridimensional kinematics data and oxygen uptake were collected simultaneously.


In both experimental groups the self-selected walking speed was lower than in controls, and lower than the expected optimal walking speed. At that speed all groups showed the best ventilatory efficiency. On contrary, chronic heart failure and heart transplant patients reached the minimum cost of transport and the maximum recovery at greater speeds than the self-selected walking speed. Their mechanical efficiency was lower than in controls, while their metabolic cost and mechanical work were on average larger.


We conclude that actions, like a physical training, that could increase the self-selected walking speed in these patients, could also increase their economy and optimize the mechanical parameters of walking. We propose a rehabilitation index, based on the theoretical optimal walking speed, to measure the improvements during a physical rehabilitation therapy. These results have an important clinical relevance and can help to improve the quality of life of heart failure and transplant patients.

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