[The stakes of force perseverance training and muscle structure training in rehabilitation. Recommendations of the German Federation for Prevention and Rehabilitation of Heart-Circulatory Diseases e.v].


While aerobic endurance training has been a substantial part of international recommendations for cardiac rehabilitation during the last 30 years, there is still a rather reserved attitude of the medical community to resistance exercise in this field. Careful recommendations for resistance exercise in cardiac patients was only published a few years ago. It has been taken for granted that strength exercise elicits a substantial increase in blood pressure and thus imposes, especially in cardiac patients, a risk of potentially fatal cardiovascular complications. Results of the latest studies show that the existing recommended overcaution is not justified. Strength exercise can indeed result in extreme increases of blood pressure, but this is not the case for all loads of this kind. The actual blood pressure response to strength exercise depends on the isometric component, the exercise intensity (load or resistance used), muscle mass activated, the number of repetitions in the set and/or the duration of the contraction as well as involvement of Valsalva maneuver. Intra arterially performed blood pressure measurements during resistance exercise in patients with heart disease showed that strength training carried out at low intensities (40-60% of MVC) and with high numbers of repetitions (15-20) only evokes a moderate increase of blood pressure comparable with blood pressure measures induced by moderate endurance training. If used properly and performed accurately, individually dosed, medically supervised and controlled through experienced sport therapists, a dynamic resistance exercise is-at least for a certain group of patients-not associated with higher risks than an aerobic endurance training and can in addition to endurance training improve muscle force and endurance, have a positive influence on cardiovascular function, metabolism, cardiovascular risk factors as well as psychosocial well-being and overall quality of life. However, with respect to currently available data, resistance exercise cannot be generally recommended for all groups of patients. The appropriate kind and execution of training is highly dependent on current clinical status, cardiac capacity as well as possible accompanying diseases of the patient. Most of the studies carried out up to date included small samples of middle-aged male patients with almost normal levels of aerobic endurance performance and good left ventricular function. Data is missing for risk groups, older patients and women. Therefore, an integration of dynamic resistance exercises in cardiac rehabilitation can only be recommended without hesitation for CHD patients with high physical capacity (good myocardial function, revascularized). Since patients with myocardial ischemia and/or low left ventricular functioning might develop wall motion disturbances and/or dangerous ventricular arrhythmia when performing resistance exercises, prevalence of the following conditions is recommend: moderate to high LV-function, high physical performance (>5-6 metabolic equivalents= >1.4 watts/kg body weight) in absence of angina pectoris symptoms or ST-depression, by maintained current medication. In the proposed recommendations, a classification of risks for resistance training in cardiac rehabilitation is being made based on current data and is complemented by specific recommendations for particular groups of patients and detailed guidelines for setup and completion of the therapy program.

Cite this paper

@article{BjarnasonWehrens2004TheSO, title={[The stakes of force perseverance training and muscle structure training in rehabilitation. Recommendations of the German Federation for Prevention and Rehabilitation of Heart-Circulatory Diseases e.v].}, author={Birna Bjarnason-Wehrens and Wolfgang Mayer-Berger and E R Meister and Klaus Baum and Rainer Hambrecht and Stephan Gielen}, journal={Zeitschrift für Kardiologie}, year={2004}, volume={93 5}, pages={357-70} }