Quarterly scientific journal

Isometric exercise and chronic heart failure

Efthimia Zerva


The resistance exercise is an important part of all rehabilitation programs in patients with chronic heart failure. Among several kinds of resistance exercises, the one mainly applied is isotonic exercise, whereas, in the contrary, isometric is not heavily used although it affects the daily lives of patients who, trying to look after themselves (moving, walking, lifting objects), twitch in an isometric way their peripheral muscles due to reduced cardiovascular endurance. Purpose: The purpose of the present review was to present the data available so far for isometric exercise in cardiovascular patients and to examine the importance of applying this kind of exercise in rehabilitation programs in the context of, firstly, evaluation, and secondly therapeutic intervention. Material - Methods: The methodology followed included searching inquiries and reviews from international databases (Pubmed, Medline, Scopus) on the effects of isometric exercise in patients with chronic heart failure. The progress and development of the studies are of particular importance to this work and, to this end, the literature refers to the entire range of time in the last three decades, from 1985 to 2012 according the key words noted. Results: In rehabilitation programs for patients with chronic heart failure, resistance exercise if applied in an isotonic way helps improve hemodynamic and functional parameters. In contrast, resistance exercise applied in an isometric way requires further investigation because most findings are related to hemodynamic disturbances. The data which is encouraging for isometric exercise programs are few and, therefore, it cannot be directly recommended as a proper way to exercise. Conclusions: Isometric exercise has an important place in the evaluation of patients with chronic heart failure, and limits should be "placed" in its application as a therapeutic tool to prevent complications.

Keywords: Chronic heart failure, resistance exercise, aerobic exercise, isometric exercise

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