Effects of combined exercise training and electromyostimulation treatments in chronic heart failure: A prospective multicentre study

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BackgroundExercise training as part of a comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation is recommended for patients with cardiac heart failure. It is a valuable method for the improvement of exercise tolerance. Some studies reported a similar improvement with quadricipital electrical myostimulation, but the effect of combined exercise training and electrical myostimulation in cardiac heart failure has not been yet evaluated in a large prospective multicentre study.PurposeThe aim of this study was to determine whether the addition of low frequency electrical myostimulation to exercise training may improve exercise capacity and/or muscular strength in cardiac heart failure patients.MethodsNinety-one patients were included (mean age: 58 ± 9 years; New York Heart Association II/III: 52/48%, left ventricular ejection fraction: 30 ± 7%) in a prospective French study. The patients were randomised into two groups: 41 patients in exercise training and 50 in exercise training + electrical myostimulation. All patients underwent 20 exercise training sessions. In addition, in the exercise training + electrical myostimulation group, patients underwent 20 low frequency (10 Hz) quadricipital electrical myostimulation sessions. Each patient underwent a cardiopulmonary exercise test, a six-minute walk test, a muscular function evaluation and a quality of life questionnaire, before and at the end of the study.ResultsA significant improvement of exercise capacity (Δ peak oxygen uptake+15% in exercise training group and +14% in exercise training + electrical myostimulation group) and of quality of life was observed in both groups without statistically significant differences between the two groups. Mean creatine kinase level increased in the exercise training group whereas it remained stable in the combined group.ConclusionsThis prospective multicentre study shows that electrical myostimulation on top of exercise training does not demonstrate any significant additional improvement in exercise capacity in cardiac heart failure patients.

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