Exercise Training for Patients With Chronic Atrial Fibrillation

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BackgroundPatients with atrial fibrillation (AF) referred for exercise rehabilitation exemplify the problem inherent in reliance on pulse rate to prescribe and monitor training intensity.MethodsExercise training was accomplished by specifying a training walking pace based on 60% to 80% of the peak oxygen intake (˙VO2max), as determined by the analysis of expired air (Horizon metabolic cart), and/or the ventilatory threshold (VT), together with a perceived exertion of 12 to 14 on the original Borg scale of perceived exertion.ResultsAt the end of 1 year, a significant training effect was demonstrated (˙VO2maxaverage increase 15%, 14.8 ± 3.6 mL/kg/min to 17.0 ± 3.6 mL/kg/min, P <.02; ˙VO2at VT, average increase 14%, 11.2 ± 2.2 to 12.8 ± 2.6 mL/kg/min, P <.01; peak power output increase 21%, 92.5 ± 29.3 Watts to 112 ± 3.7 Watts, P <.05) in a group of 20 patients (13 men, 7 women) with chronic atrial fibrillation.ConclusionsPatients with chronic atrial filbrillation can achieve significant functional gains from an exercise rehabilitation program.

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