Effects of Exercise on Ejection Fraction, Arrhythmias, Dyspnea, and Functional Capacity in Congestive Heart Failure Patients

Mario Mitkov
University of California at Davis

Full paper: http://www.kon.org/urc/v7/mitkov.html » 

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) accounts for about a quarter of a million deaths a year, and currently its prevalence among the U.S. population is 4.8 million (1). CHF occurs when the heart cannot meet the demands of the body. The symptoms are breathlessness and fatigue due to a build up of fluid in and around the lungs. The failing heart inflates like a water balloon and, over time, gets stretched out to the point where it becomes a flimsy sac saturated with blood. If this sac is agitated with vigorous exercise it can, in some cases, fail.

Thus whether a CHF patient should exercise is now a controversial issue. Cardiologists are often times reluctant to prescribe exercise to CHF patients because of the possibility that their failing hearts may have a negative response to the increased workload and stress of exercise (2). The negative short-term responses to exercise may include a decrease in ejection fraction (fraction of blood pumped out of the heart), arrhythmias (arrhythmic beating of the heart), and a drop in oxygen saturation of the blood. CHF patients struggle on a daily basis to perform simple tasks such as walking up stairs or even dribbling a basketball in extreme cases; this results in a drastically compromised quality of life. On the other hand, exercise may allow optimal cardiac output and other secondary therapeutic effects. The purpose of this review is to provide an overview of the positive and negative effects of cardiovascular exercise on ejection fraction, the onset of arrhythmias and dyspnea (shortness of breath), and functional capacity in congestive heart failure patients.

Read the full paper at: http://www.kon.org/urc/v7/mitkov.html