-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
TUESDAY, Sept. 13 (HealthDay News) -- People with chronic heart
failure can improve their ability to exercise by focusing their
training on their small muscles, researchers say.
This type of isolated workout can also boost oxygen flow and
improve patients' quality of life, according to the report
published online Sept. 13 and in the Sept. 20 print issue of the
Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
In conducting the study, researchers from Italy and the United
States gave 12 men an eight-week program of isolated, small muscle
(knee-extensions) and whole-body (cycling) exercises. Six of the
men had chronic heart failure; the rest did not.
The investigators examined the men's muscle structure, oxygen
transport and metabolism both before and after they completed the
program, and compared the findings of those with chronic heart
failure to those without the heart condition.
Following the initial program, the men with heart failure
completed another eight-week small muscle exercise regimen so the
researchers could compare how their results had changed.
The study showed that cardiac output during the small muscle
exercise was similar among all the participants both before and
after the eight weeks of training. There was a change, however, in
Before the training, the maximum amount of oxygen delivered to
the leg muscles was significantly lower in the men with chronic
heart failure. Once they completed the eight-week program, the
amount of oxygen delivered to their leg muscles surged by roughly
54 percent, the same level as the men without heart failure, the
study authors reported.
The leg oxygen consumption of the men with heart failure was
also significantly higher than the other men, rising by about 53
percent after the training. The researchers attributed this to
better blood flow redistribution.
Lead study author Dr. Fabio Esposito, of the University of
Milan, pointed out in a news release from the American College of
Cardiology that the study results "indicate that the skeletal
muscle of patients with chronic heart failure still has the
potential to adapt in the expected fashion, if given the
The findings could help medical professionals develop better
treatment and rehab strategies for patients with chronic heart
failure, the team concluded.
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