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J Cardiopulm Rehabil. 2003 Mar-Apr;23(2):100-6.

Physical activity patterns and exercise performance in cardiac transplant recipients.

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  • 1Cardiovascular Division, Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, Calif 94304, USA.



Cardiac transplantation (CTX) improves exercise tolerance, but CTX recipients still achieve only 50% to 70% of normal values for exercise capacity. Among the factors suggested to explain the reduced exercise tolerance in CTX recipients is deconditioning. Little is known about the relation between physical activity patterns and exercise test responses in CTX patients.


Forty-seven CTX patients (mean age 47 +/- 12 years; mean 4.8 +/- 3.0 years after CTX) underwent maximal exercise testing and assessment of current and past physical activity patterns using a questionnaire. Energy expenditure from recreational and occupational activities over the last year and for adulthood were expressed in kcal/week and correlated with peak oxygen consumption (VO(2)), VO(2) at the ventilatory threshold, and the percentage of age-predicted peak VO(2) achieved.


The patients reported expending a mean of approximately 1100 kcal/week in recreational activity, suggesting a moderate level of physical activity is maintained after CTX. The mean peak VO(2) achieved for the group was 17.2 +/- 5.2 mL/kg/min, corresponding to 59% +/- 14% of age-predicted exercise capacity. Significant but modest associations were observed between recreational energy expenditure during the last year and percentage of age-predicted peak VO(2) achieved (r = 0.34, P <.01), and VO(2) at the ventilatory threshold (r = 0.45, P <.01). Energy expenditure from blocks walked and stairs climbed per week was modestly associated with peak VO(2) (r = 0.36, P <.05), percentage of predicted peak VO(2) achieved (r = 0.39, P <.01), and VO(2) at the ventilatory threshold (r = 0.42, P <.01). Exercise capacity was poorly related to occupational and recreational activities when expressed as average weekly energy expended throughout adulthood.


Post-CTX patients maintain a moderately active lifestyle. Measures of exercise tolerance generally are related to recent daily recreational activities in CTX patients, but these associations are modest. The many physiologic factors unique to CTX recipients likely play a more important role than deconditioning in determining exercise tolerance in these patients.

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