Effect of exercise training in patients with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator

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Little research exists on exercise performance and training in patients with an implemented cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) and only in a limited number of patients. This study aims to investigate the effect of exercise training in ICD patients in comparison to the effects in other cardiac patients without an ICD.

Methods and results

92 ICD patients were compared with a control group of 473 patients. A maximal cycle-spiroergometric test was performed until exhaustion before and after an ambulatory exercise training programme. Exercise training was offered 3 times a week for 3 months. The cut-off heart rate was set at (ICD detection rate −20 beats/min). At baseline, the ICD patients had a lower peak oxygen uptake (VO2) compared to the control group. Training effects were smaller for peak VO2 (mL/min/kg) and oxygen pulse in the ICD group (18 vs. 27%, p=0.006 and 11 vs. 17%, p=0.016, respectively). Several appropriate shocks were delivered during (n=5), and in between (n=7), testing or training and one inappropriate shock during training.


ICD patients can safely participate in an exercise training programme with favorable results. A randomised control study with evaluation of the physical and the psychosocial effects is warranted.

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