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Comparing methods for prescribing exercise for individuals with chronic heart failure

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journal contribution
posted on 2005-08-01, 00:00 authored by J Patterson, Steve SeligSteve Selig, D Toia, R Geerling, V Bamroongsuk, D Hare
This study examined the accuracy of current recommended guidelines for prescribing exercise intensity using the methods of percentage of heart rate reserve (%HRR), percentage of VO2 peak (%VO2peak) and percentage of VO2 reserve (%VO2R) in a clinical population of chronic heart failure (CHF) patients. The precision of prescription of exercise intensity for 45 patients with stable CHF (39:6 M:F, 65±9 yrs (mean±SD)) was investigated. VO2peak testing is relatively common among patients with cardiac disease, but the assessment of VO2rest is not common practice and the accepted standard value of 3.5 mL/kg/min is assumed in the application of %VO2R (%VO2R3.5). In this study, VO2rest was recorded for 3 min prior to the start of a symptom-limited exercise test on a cycle ergometer. Target exercise intensities were calculated using the VO2 corresponding to 50 or 80 %HRR, VO2peak and VO2R. The VO2 values were then converted into prescribed speeds on a treadmill in km/hr at 1 %grade using ACSM’s metabolic equation for walking. Target intensities and prescribed treadmill speeds were also calculated with the %VO2R method using the mean VO2rest value of participants (3.9 mL/kg/min) (%VO2R3.9). This was then compared to the exercise intensities and prescribed treadmill speeds using patient’s measured VO2rest. Error in prescription correlates the difference between %VO2R3.5 and %VO2R3.9 compared to %VO2R with measured VO2rest. Prescription of exercise intensity through the %HRR method is imprecise for patients on medications that blunt the HR response to exercise. %VO2R method offers a significant improvement in exercise prescription compared to %VO2peak. However, a disparity of 10 % still exists in the %VO2R method using the standard 3.5 mL/kg/min for VO2rest in the %VO2R equation. The mean measured VO2rest in the 45 CHF patients was 11 % higher (3.9±0.8 mL/kg/min) than the standard value provided by ACSM. Applying the mean measured VO2rest value of 3.9 mL/kg/min rather than the standard assumed value of 3.5 mL/kg/min proved to be closer to the prescribed intensity determined by the actual measured resting VO2. These results suggest that the %HRR method should not be used to prescribe exercise intensity for CHF patients. Instead, VO2 should be used to prescribe exercise intensity and be expressed as %VO2R with measured variables (VO2rest and VO2peak).



Journal of exercise physiology online






9 - 19


American Society of Exercise Physiologists


Duluth, Minn.






Reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright owner.

Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2005, American Society of Exercise Physiologists

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