It may seem counterintuitive, and it did for a long while, but patients who benefited from a heart transplant can sagely engage in high-intensity exercises without causing any kind of health issues. Moreover, according to researchers from University of Copenhagen, Denmark, it is also recommended, due to the noticeable health improvements.
Researchers led by Christian Dall, PhD fellow, investigated stable heart transplant patients to reach the conclusion. High-intensity exercises provide important benefits for blood pressure control, more so than exercises at a moderate intensity.
To answer the research question on the required amount of physical exercise for heart transplant patients, researchers selected 16 subjects. Each of them benefited from a heart transplant more than a year ago and showed stable health indicators.
A part of the patients continued doing moderate intensity exercises, while the other part started doing much more intense training. They were asked to train so that they will spend a couple of minutes with their heartbeats at maximum rate.
Heart transplant patients can decrease blood pressure through high-intensity work-outs
The group which performed exercises at maximum effort levels managed to achieve increased health benefits. Their oxygen capacity levels increased by 17 percent, compared to just 10 percent oxygen level intake capacity for the group doing moderate intensity exercises. Moreover, the group of patients who did high-intensity work-outs managed to obtain a decreased systolic blood pressure, whereas the other group did not achieve this benefit.
The news comes ironically just a couple of days after another research team discovered that heart attack survivors must not engage in excessive exercising because all the benefits stemming from physical work-out will be lost.
“Today, people who have been given a new heart experience increased physical function, quality of life, and overall life span; however, most patients continue to have limitations in their physical function and reduced quality of life compared to the general population due to side-effects from anti-rejection medications and because heart rate regulation is impaired after heart transplantation,” said Dall. “The impaired heart rate response has been considered a hindrance for more demanding high-intensity training, but this new study documents that stable heart transplant recipients benefit from this type of training more than from the moderate training that has been recommended so far. Importantly, the training is also safe and well received by patients.”
Nevertheless, this kind of behavior change unquestionably needs the doctor’s approval, so do not get started unless the doctor agrees a different work-out routine. Heart transplant patients have to be generally careful with any behavior change.