Exercise as an intervention for patients with end-stage liver disease: Systematic review

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Abstract

Background:

Various etiologies of chronic liver disease often result in cirrhosis. Beside obvious liver-related complications, cirrhosis also leads to loss of muscle mass and decreased exercise capacity. In this study, our aim was to conduct a systematic review of literature to investigate the efficacy of exercise interventions in patients with cirrhosis.

Method:

PubMed was used to perform the literature search. The mesh terms used were the following: (liver (and) cirrhosis (and) exercise or (exercise therapy)). The following terms were excluded: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The search was limited to the English language and human research. The initial search was conducted on December 6, 2016 and re-reviewed May 2017.

Results:

Seven studies met selection criteria. Training interventions ranged between 4 and 14 weeks in duration with an exercise frequency of 3 to 5 days per week. Most studies demonstrated an increase in maximal oxygen consumption using gas exchange techniques. Two of 3 studies demonstrated increased distance covered in the 6-minute walk test. One study showed a clinically significant decrease in hepatic venous pressure gradient, while another showed a transient increase only during exercise. There were no adverse effects of the exercise program reported.

Conclusions:

Exercise in selected patients with cirrhosis can have potential benefit in endurance and functional outcome measures without adverse effect from exercise.

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