High-intensity exercise `safe` in heart transplant patients

Washington: High-intensity exercise can help stable heart transplant patients reach higher levels of exercise capacity and gain better control of their blood pressure than moderate intensity exercise, a study indicates.

Researchers compared the effects of 12 weeks of high-intensity interval training versus continued moderate training in 16 stable heart transplant recipients who had been living with their new heart for more than one year.

The findings revealed that high-intensity interval training is safe in heart transplant patients and the effect on exercise capacity and blood pressure control is superior to moderate intensity training.

"Our study documents that stable heart transplant recipients benefit from this type of training more than from the moderate training that has been recommended so far," claimed Christian Dall from Bispebjerg Hospital at University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Importantly, the training is also safe and well received by patients, he added.

The impaired heart rate response has been considered a hindrance for more demanding high-intensity training.

In the study, researchers found that VO2 max, or maximal oxygen uptake, increased by 17 percent in patients performing high-intensity interval training compared with 10 percent in patients performing continued moderate training.

Systolic blood pressure decreased significantly in patients in the high-intensity group, while it remained unchanged in patients in the moderate intensity group.

Peak heart rate also increased in the high-intensity group but not in the moderate intensity group. Heart rate recovery improved in both groups.

The study appeared in the American Journal of Transplantation.

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