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Acta Physiol Scand. 2001 Mar;171(3):295-303.

Skeletal muscle training in chronic heart failure.

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Clinical Cardiology, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College School of Medicine, London, UK.


Patients with heart failure are limited in their ability to tolerate exercise. Recent research has suggested that this limitation cannot be entirely attributed to cardiac or lung impairment but rather that changes in peripheral muscles may play an important role. There are objective similarities between heart failure and muscular deconditioning. Deficiencies in peripheral blood flow and skeletal muscle function, morphology, metabolism and function are present in both conditions. Moreover, an exaggerated activity of the receptors sensitive to exercise-derived metabolic signals (muscle ergoreceptors and peripheral and central chemoreceptors) leads to early and profound exercise-induced fatigue and dyspnoea. These muscle afferents contribute to the ventilatory, haemodynamic and autonomic responses to exercise both in physiological and pathological conditions, including chronic heart failure. Against this background, a skeletal muscle origin of symptoms in heart failure has been proposed. The protective effects of physical training have been described in many recent studies: training improves ventilatory control, skeletal muscle metabolism and autonomic nervous system activity. The exercise training appears to induce its beneficial effects on skeletal muscle both directly (on muscle function, histological and biochemical features) and indirectly (by reducing the activation of the muscle afferents). The metabolic mediators of these muscle afferents may become a potential target in the future therapy of heart failure symptoms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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