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Am Heart J. 2011 Dec;162(6):1080-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2011.09.013.

A randomized study of the effects of exercise training on patients with atrial fibrillation.

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Department of Cardiology, Hvidovre Hospital, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.



Exercise training is beneficial in ischemic and congestive heart disease. However, the effect on atrial fibrillation (AF) is unknown.


Forty-nine patients with permanent AF (age [mean ± SD], 70.2 ± 7.8 years; male-to-female ratio, 0.75; body mass index [mean ± SD], 29.7 ± 4.3 kg/m(2)) were randomized to 12-week aerobic exercise training or a control group. Exercise capacity, 6-minute walk test (6MWT), cardiac output, quality of life, and natriuretic peptides were measured. Cardiac output was measured at rest and during ergometer testing, and atrial natriuretic peptide and N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide were measured before and after the training period. Quality of life was evaluated using the Short-Form 36 and Minnesota Living With Heart Failure (MLHF-Q) questionnaires.


Improved exercise capacity and 6MWT were observed in the active patients (P < .001), and at study end, there was a significant difference between the active patients and the controls (P = .002). Resting pulse decreased in the active patients (94.8 ± 22.4 to 86.3 ± 22.5 beats/min, P = .049) but remained unchanged in the controls. Cardiac output was unchanged from baseline to end-of-study period. The MLHF-Q score improved in the active group (21.1 ± 18.0 vs 15.4 ± 17.5, P = .03). Active patients showed progress in 3 of the 8 Short-Form 36 subscales: physical functioning (P = .02), general health perceptions (P = .001), and vitality (P = .02). Natriuretic peptides were unchanged.


Twelve weeks of exercise training increased exercise capacity and 6MWT and decreased resting pulse rate significantly in patients with AF. Overall quality of life increased significantly as measured by the cardiology-related MLHF-Q. Cardiac output and natriuretic peptides were unchanged in both groups.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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