Heart transplantation (HT) is the treatment of choice for eligible patients with end-stage chronic heart failure (HF). One-year survival world-wide is >85%. Many patients experience a reasonable functional ability post-HT, but episodes of acute rejection, as well as multiple co-morbidities such as hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and cardiac allograft vasculopathy are common. Immunosuppression with prednisone frequently results in increased body fat and skeletal muscle atrophy. Exercise capacity is below normal for most patients with a mean peak oxygen consumption (VO) of approximately 60% of expected. HT recipients have abnormal exercise physiology findings related to surgical cardiac denervation, diastolic dysfunction, and the legacy of reduced skeletal muscle oxidative capacity and impaired vasodilatory ability resulting from pre-HT chronic HF. The heart rate response to exercise is blunted. Cardiac reinnervation resulting in partial normalization of the heart rate response to exercise occurs in approximately 40% of HT recipients months to years after HT. Supervised exercise training in cardiac rehabilitation (CR) programs is safe and is recommended by professional societies both before (pre-habilitation) and after HT. Exercise training does not require alteration in immunosuppressants. Exercise training in adults after HT improves peak VO and skeletal muscle strength. It has also been demonstrated to reduce the severity of cardiac allograft vasculopathy. In addition, CR exercise training is associated with reduced stroke risk, percutaneous coronary intervention, hospitalization for either acute rejection or HF, and death. There are only limited data for exercise training in the pediatric population.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.