Exercise Performance During the First Two Years After Left Ventricular Assist Device Implantation
Exercise performance of patients with left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) improves after postimplant cardiac rehabilitation (CR). Few studies assess the effectiveness of a CR and its long-term effect of exercise performance. For this purpose, we retrospectively analyzed data from LVAD patients, who underwent a stationary CR twice after pump implantation. Data from exercise training and cardiopulmonary exercise tests (CPETs) were analyzed. Fifteen patients (age: 57 ± 10 years, male 87%) were admitted to the rehabilitation clinic twice 39 ± 18 and 547 ± 197 days after LVAD implantation. An improvement from the beginning to the end of the second CR was observed in bicycle ergometer training (14.0 ± 8.8 vs. 35.7 ± 14.7 W; p < 0.001), in muscular strength (e.g., leg press: 41 ± 10 vs. 53 ± 14 kg; p < 0.001), and in 6 minute walk distance (421 ± 126 m vs. 480 ± 133 m; p = 0.040). Between the first and the second CR, improvement in all the training modules was observed as well as an increase in CPETs peak workload (56 ± 24 vs. 83 ± 26 W; p < 0.001) but not in peak oxygen consumption (12.3 ± 3.2 vs. 12.2 ± 4.0 ml/min/kg; p = 0.906). Thus, over long implant periods, patients showed improvement of their exercise performance in the submaximal load range, but no change in the aerobic capacity was observed.